Saturday, 06 June 2020
Members of North West Provincial COVID-19 Command Council,
Members of the media,
The residents of the North West Province,
Fellow South Africans,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The last time I stood before you, we were amongst the two provinces with the lowest confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus; commonly referred to as COVID-19.
However, things have since taken a drastic change since that time as we have surpassed Mpumalanga, Free State, Limpopo and the Northern Cape Provinces with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the North West Province as of Thursday, 04 June 2020 is 364, showing an increase of 49 from previously reported cases.
There are 59 recoveries and still one reported death so far.
A total of 5 confirmed cases which were previously allocated to Gauteng, have since been reallocated to the North West Province after data harmonization and verification of addresses and the majority of these cases are mine related in the Rustenburg area.
The new 49 cases are spread as follows:
Rustenburg 24, Matlosana 20, JB Marks 2, Maquassi Hills 1 and 2 unallocated cases.
As at this past Thursday, 04 June 2020, the Bojanala Platinum District had the highest number of confirmed cases at 215 with 39 recoveries and one death.
The Dr Kenneth Kaunda District is next with 121 confirmed and 21 recoveries.
The Ngaka Modiri Molema District now has 20 confirmed cases, with 10 recoveries while the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District has 5 cases and 1 has recovered.
There are 11 health care workers who tested COVID-19 positive and 7 of them have since recovered.
We have now conducted over 3 million screenings so far; in fact, the actual number stands at 3 123 523.
Those referred for testing are at 2 724.
We are of the firm conviction that in mass screenings, active case finding and contact tracing remain key to the prevention of rapid infections.
As at 04 June 2020, the Province has traced 89%; which is 1 302 out of 1 449, of all identified contacts and all suspected contacts are referred for testing.
A total of 62 of the 1 449 contacts traced have tested positive and that represents 4% of the total contacts traced.
The North-West Province’s COVID-19 laboratory confirmed cases contributes less than 1% of South Africa’s burden of cases and the majority of the active cases are in Bojanala Platinum district; representing 60%, which is 176 of the 291 active cases; followed by Dr Kenneth Kaunda District at 34%, which is 100 of the 291 cases.
Although the Bojanala Platinum District has the highest number of recovered cases in the province, there is no significant differences in the recovery rates of both the Bojanala Platinum and Dr Kenneth Kaunda Districts.
The increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the mines is a major issue of concern to the Provincial COVID-19 Command Council and the MEC for Health, Hon Madoda Sambatha, has been visiting and engaging with the mining houses in the Province to assess the levels of compliance with lockdown regulations.
The mines have become hotspots for this novel Coronavirus in the North West and more effort is needed to curb the disease from spreading to mining communities.
It is very key that mineworkers are screened before they could start work and those who come from hotspot provinces like Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape should be screened and tested before they could start work.
Mining companies carry the same obligations as all other employer organisations in the Province to follow strict health protocols adopted by the Provincial Command Council to make sure that mineworkers who test positive and their contacts are isolated at quarantine sites approved by Government.
The Provincial Command Council has resolved to enhance our technical capacity to improve on research and epidemiological analysis in order to inform an effective response to hotspots areas.
We have also ensured the availability of medicines required to treat the complications of COVID-19; and this includes analgesic, antipyretics, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anticoagulants, Zinc Sulphate, Vitamin C.
The hospital capacity in the province has been enhanced by collaboration between the public and private health as well as the mining sectors.
The availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been stabilised and measures are in place for continual procurement.
The forensic services and mortuary services capacity has also received attention.
To this effect, we have officially opened a forensic pathology mortuary at the Brits District Hospital in Madibeng this past Thursday.
This is part of the Province’s health infrastructure preparedness.
This new forensic pathology mortuary has body storage capacity of 11 and 40 shelves for decomposed bodies.
The hospitals have arrangements with private mortuaries for additional capacity and there is also a provincial Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that directs the management of human remains of covid-19.
We have ensured that our staff wellness is taken care of and this is an area that we will continue to improve on.
This has been a key priority for the Provincial COVID-19 Command Council and measures have been taken to ensure the availability of PPE, psycho-social support and vaccination of front line workers.
During the Level 5 Lockdown, administrative and support staff were rostered to facilitate physical distancing. The Department of Health has rolled out an extensive training program in the prevention and management of COVID-19 for its employees as well as the private sector.
In terms of quarantine facilities, we have 397 active beds in Bojanala, 126 in Dr Kenneth Kaunda, 137 in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati and 81 in Ngaka Modiri Molema Districts.
This translates into 7 facilities for Bojanala Platinum, 6 for Dr Kenneth Kaunda, 7 for Ngaka Modiri Molema and 4 at Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati Districts.
We have adequate quarantine facility beds in the mines, both in the Bojanala Platinum and Dr Kenneth Kaunda Districts.
We are indeed prepared for the Level 3 Lockdown period.
The Department of the Public Works and Roads, as the custodian of provincially owned properties, is mandated in terms of the Protocol for the establishment and management of Quarantine Facilities and Homeless Shelters; to identify possible sites for quarantine and accommodation of homeless people based on the Protocol on Quarantine Facilities.
The Department has subsequently identified, consolidated and submitted the list of identified sites for Quarantine and shelters for the homeless to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre as per the Protocol, and the list of identified sites is updated on a regular basis.
Furthermore, these sites were inspected, assessed and those that require additional maintenance will be attended to before being designated as approved site.
We have also decided to investigate the use of other state facilities such as the hangers at the airports and residential facilities at Health institutions which are currently not in use, in anticipation of the need for additional quarantine facilities or additional beds in the near future.
Progress on the suitability of these and other facilities will be provided in due course.
The modelling conducted by the Provincial Command Council predicts that in the worst case scenarios the Province will require additional (?) bed capacity during our peak, and everything is being done to ensure that the Province is ready and has sufficiently equiped hospital beds,isolation and quarantine facilities in the event of any predicted peak.
The Department of Health, as the lead department in the fight against COVID-19, is working with Private Health Practitioners to ensure the standardized management of patients across the province and the department is continuously monitoring Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and tools for managing COVID-19 patients in both the public and private sectors while protocols are being reviewed as and when necessary.
With respect to the provision of PPE to health personnel across the province, we have adequate stock required to ensure that no health professional is allowed to provide services without proper PPE.
Stock levels are replenished continuosly to maintain adequate availability of supplies and we are confident that the Province will never run out PPE.
The Minister of Education, the Hon Angie Motshekga, announced last weekend that schools will reopen on Monday, 08 June 2020 so to allow the return of Grade 7 and 12 learners to class countrywide and we have been hard at work to ensure that we are ready for the arrival of learners in our schools in the North West.
Senior Management Teams and educators then went back to work on Monday, 01 June 2020 to prepare for the arrival of learners.
We expect 65 000 grade 7 and 37 000 grade 12 learners,to be back at school on Monday to mark the reopening of our schools in the North West.
In preparation for the return of learners, we have ensured the thorough cleaning of schools – in some instances this included donations by various stakeholders such as Impala Platinum, Sibanye Stillwater, Anglo Platinum, Royal Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum and Tharisa Mines; all from Rustenburg, LaFarge Cement in the Ditsobotla Sub- District as well as Batseba Holding (Pty) from Khuma in Stilfontein.
These and many more stakeholders assisted us to prepare by volunteering their resources to ensure the deep cleaning of schools in some parts of the Province.
We have made sure to stick to our promise and commitment to ensure that we avail and distribute COVID-19 PPE to school and this includes infrared thermometers, cloth masks and face shields.
We have procured and delivered 12 000 5litre sanitizers and 3 008 25litres of hand soap to schools for the phased-in return of learners and staff from Monday, 08 June 2020.
We have also procured and delivered 3 000 digital infrared thermometers to various schools across the North West and 30 000 face shields for teachers.
We have also finalised the delivery of 1 200 hand sanitizer containers to districts, 3 008 boxes of aprons and 3 008 boxes of gloves meant for schools in the four districts.
We will be ensuring 1,5 meters social distancing in schools with a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 30 learners in classes.
We have decided on single desks for learners, however some of our schools currently have a combination of single and double desks; but schools have ensured that social distancing is observed at all times.
Mobile Toilets will be rented for 72 schools in Bojanala Platinum and Ngaka Modiri Molema Districts whilst contractors are completing sanitation projects in those schools.
We have successfully conducted orientation on COVID-19 for SMT’s, educators, non-teaching staff, SGB’s and voluntary food handlers across the province in preparation for the return of Grade 7 and 12 learners on Monday.
The release of the Revised Annual Teaching plans for Grade 7 and 12 has been done and this includes the cancellation of June examinations for all Grades, the trimming of the curriculum in all Grades except Grade 12 and the reduction of school-based assessment to allow for more teaching and learning time.
We have also completed the appointment of screeners and cleaners for all the schools in the North West and the four special schools in the North West offering Grades 7 and 12 will also reopening on Monday, 08 June 2020.
We have witnessed vandalism of schools across the country since the Lockdown was declared at the end of March 2020 and the North West is no exception to this criminality; however, efforts to repair the vandalized schools has been continuing in earnest.
Responsibility for all repairs costing less than R50 000 had been delegated to SGB’s to undertake. Of the 71 such schools, 69 have been repaired.
There are 58 schools with repairs that will cost more than R50 000 and Requests for Quotations (RFQs) have been issued; however, these repairs will not have any adverse impact on the opening of schools for Grades 7 and 12 learners.
The South African National Defense Force (SANDF), who are an integral part of the Provincial COVID-19 Command Council, have offered to assist with the filling of water tanks allocated to schools and we would like to thank them for that patriotic gesture meant to contribute to the learning and teaching environment.
We call on all our communities not to disrupt schooling and to report any burglary in schools to relevant authorities.
We recently had a fruitful engagement between the Department of Education, Department of Community Safety and Transport Management and the South African National Small Bus Operators Council (SANSBOC) to ensure that the learner transport bus operators are also ready for the return to school of Grade 7 and 12 learners this coming Monday, 08 June 2020 in line with the announcement made by the Minister of Basic Education.
SANSBOC raised concerns that included the cost incurred in preparation for the resumption of the school calendar, the standard of sanitizers provided by the Provincial Government and the standard of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided.
We have committed to ensure that those concerns are adequately addressed and as result, SANSBOC have assured us that they are ready to transport learners in line with the stipulated lockdown regulations as from Monday.
SANSBOC will therefore provide 358 buses to transport 11 576 Grade 7 and 12 learners in the North West; and each of those buses has been given sufficient PPE and sanitizers in line with norms and standards set by the Minister of Transport.
Provincial Departments as well as National Departments with a presence in the North West Province, including the 18 local municipalities and the four district municipalities, have developed and submitted risk adjusted Level 3 plans to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre; all with specific focus on the return of employees to work.
The plans also provide for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) measures in line with COVID-19 that has to be adhered to as prescribed by the national Department of Public Service and Administration.
With regards to the workplace readiness by Provincial Government Departments in line with the related regulations, all Departments have each appointed a Compliance Officer, reviewed the functions of the Departmental OHS committees, reviewed risk assessments, reviewed COVID-19 OHS policies as well as developed guidelines, protocols and action plans for the gradual phased-in return of employees.
Furthermore, we have properly concluded the determination of floor spaces in square meters in all our workplaces, the number of service recipients and employees that are allowed to be inside our premises in line with the regulations, disabled biometric systems or where possible make them COVID-19 proof, demarcated the working spaces to comply to the mandatory 1,5 metre social distancing requirement and ensured that our office space are well ventilated and illuminated.
In addition, the Provincial COVID-19 Command Council has ensured that there is adequate and constant supply of running water in the workplace, adequate hand sanitizers are made available and placed at strategically accessible areas as well as provide adequate cleaning material and equipment.
We have put up protocols that pertain to the use of shared office equipment and common areas is clearly displayed in strategic and prominent places while a register containing details of all employees, visitors and service providers entering our work spaces is administered daily.
We have also ensured that all work spaces have isolation rooms in cases where there is a suspicion of a possible case(s) of an infected person(s) while the distribution of PPE and sanitizers to employees has already begun and is continuing.
The screening of all employees and any other person entering our premises using thermal scanners and prescribed forms will be the norm as well as provision of face masks to front desk employees at all times.
All our Departments and municipalities have already begun with this exercise and it will continue as we proceed with the phased-in return of employees to work.
It is compulsory for each and every employees and visitors to our premises to wear a mask or else entry will be denied.
In the event where there are water provision challenges in the workplace, the Provincial COVID-19 Command Council is developing a plan to address those challenges as soon as they arise.
The following National Departments, that have a presence in the North West Province, are also currently busy with the implementation of Risk Adjusted Lockdown Level 3 measures; the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Correctional Services, the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Department of Employment and Labour as well as the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
All these departments are fully operational at this current moment.
The Department of Employment and Labour has appointed additional (7) inspectors to monitor compliance at both state and private facilities.
The Provincial COVID-19 Command Council continues to ensure that we provide psychosocial service support, shelter to the homeless as well as ensuring food security during since the President declared the national lockdown 72 days ago.
A total number of 1 045 people have so far received psychosocial service support in the North West; 123 in Ngaka Modiri Molema, 219 in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati, 106 in Bojanala Platinum and 957 in Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
We have provided shelter to 68 homeless people in Bojanala Platinum, 39 in Ngaka Modiri Molema, 19 in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati and 92 in Dr Kenneth Kaunda; bringing the total number of homeless people accommodated to 218.
In terms of humanitarian relief, we have distributed 34 923 food parcels across the North West; 15 042 in Dr Kenneth Kaunda, 9 588 in Ngaka Modiri Molema, 2 315 in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati and 7 978 in Bojanala Platinum.
We also received 16 923 food parcel donation from various private companies, organisations and individuals; and we are eternally grateful for those donations and encourage more to come to the party and partner with us to ensure that the most vulnerable of our society do not go to bed with empty stomach in the midst of this pandemic.
The Social Cluster Departments and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue to implement an intersectoral Oral Food Security Intervention Plan for the duration the national lockdown period and beyond.
Food security will continue to benefit profiled households and referrals of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities during the lockdown period.
The implementation of our feeding programme comprising of all centre based feeding services such as the Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDC) continues.
The CNDC coordinates various donations and allocates them to beneficiaries to all four districts. The Provincial COVID-19 Command Council, through CNDC programme, reached 6352 beneficiaries in the province.
The following is the breakdown per district:-
● Ngaka Modiri Molema – 2160
● Dr. Kenneth Kaunda – 1130
● Bojanala Platinum – 1676
● Dr. Ruth Segomotsi Mompati – 1386
As part of our efforts to relieve the burden brought about by COVID-19 to our water scarce communities, it is common knowledge that the Department of Water and Sanitation appointed Rand Water as an implementing agent for the provision of emergency water supply to communities as well as for sanitation projects in high risk areas.
The Rand Water Board appointed a number of service providers to carry-out the actual delivery of water tanks as well as water trucks.
This is done in collaboration with the municipalities in identified hotspots settlements for the provision of water and sanitation.
We have so far procured 825 x 2.5kilolitre to 10kilolitre water tanks which will be placed at strategic points in hotspots areas, and the 825 water tanks have been delivered.
As at Thursday, 04 June 2020, 807 of the 825 water tanks have been installed and filled with water and distressed communities are being supplied with water; 50 water tankers have been hired (leased) and all 50 have been delivered to all four district municipalities and are in use.
We have also has contracted Magalies and Sedibeng Water Boards and availed 14 trucks; 13 by the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs while one belongs to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and they have all been allocated to the Bojanala Platinum, Ngaka Modiri Molema and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati Districts.
There has been number of cases of trangressions and violations of Lockdown regulations since the end of March 2020 in the Province and the following is a breakdown of the 507 cases in the last week:
– Liquor related offences – 18
– Gathering related offences – 75
– Residential related offences – 272
– Cross border related offences – 25
– Business related offences – 14
– Transport related offences – 04
– Other priority offences – 99
In terms of Environmental Services, we have conducted 13 compliance inspections, participated in the four major roadblocks in the province and 25 biodiversity permits since the beginning of the lockdown as well as attending to six damage causing animal cases.
We have set up a relief fund for SMMEs, which was approved by the Provincial Executive Council and ready for disbursement. Calls for application were issued on May 28, 2020 and is open from 01 June 2020 until 30 June 2020.
In relation to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the Department of Labour and Employment, in the North West, has assisted workers affected by COVID-19 through existing benefits that include illness, ordinary, maternity, reduced work time unemployment, Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits.
We have communicated an approved transfer of R11.559 million from National Treasury to our various municipalities of the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant (MDRG) for purposes of sanitation, decontamination of municipal spaces as well as waste management.
The Covid-19 expenditure amounts to R 3,337 million or 6% of the allocated R58,413 million as at 26 May 2020.
The departmental expenditure is continuously being monitored on a weekly basis and departmental expenditures will start reflecting in the June expenditure report after payments.
We have already activated the Provincial Audit Committee to closely monitor departmental expenditure and ensure full compliance to the Public Finance Management Act to curb any chances of irregularities or corruption related to COVID 19 expenditure.
In relation to Municipal Response and Preparedness Plans, all employees are provided with the required personal protective equipment staff in municipalities are already back at work whilst staff above 60 years and staff with comorbidities are working from home.
Municipal Health Services has conducted weekly inspections and awareness creation in food premises, private medical facilities, funerals, homeless facilities, quarantine site undertakes, hospitals as well as training of funeral undertakers.
Municipalities have also conducted grave capacities in line with COVID-19 worst case scenarios and lists of graves have been submitted to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre.
In addition, we have deployed Senior Managers from the Provincial Government to support and monitor the functioning of District Command Centres in line with District Development Model (DDM); which translates to one Director per District Command Centre.
The North West Provincial Government, National Departments with a presence in the Province and all the 22 municipalities, with the mining houses, are already implementing the Risk Adjusted Level 3 Lockdown Strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the North West House of Tranditional Leaders under the leadership of Kgosi Mabe, the organised Local Government Sector (SALGA), organised labour, business, NGO/CBO’s, churches for their continued collaboration and support to the efforts of the Provincial Command Council to fight against the invisible COVID 19 enemy.
We have learned important lessons through this pandemic and I am confident that this will have long lasting positive impact in how we conduct business as Government and deliver services to the people.
The world as we have known it before 26th March 2020 has changed.
I thank you.
Issued by the North West Provincial COVID-19 Command Council
Vuyisile Ngesi – Spokesperson – Office of the Premier
061 056 3623
email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org