News Release: Environmental Health Practitioners still optimistic amidst the pandemic

News Release
For Immediate Release
30 September 2020

Environmental Health Practitioners still optimistic amidst the pandemic

Since March 2020, all Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) have worked at grassroots level to raise awareness about COVID-19 to formal and informal business sectors. Awareness shared not only included the signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus disease, but more importantly, ways in which to minimize and prevent the spread of it.

“Since March 2020, three (3) EHPs out of 39 contracted COVID-19,” said Mr Johan Compion, GRDM Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services. “It has been a stressful time for EHPs and their families, especially for those who have family members at home stressed if their partners contracted COVID-19 while moving around,” he said.

GRDM Executive Manager, Mr Clive Africa explained that the multi-agency approach to curbing the spread of the virus is one of the reasons why not many lives were lost. “Our Firefighters and the additional 20 Expanded Public Works Programme workers, since 1 April 2020, disinfected a countless number of sites,” said Africa.

“None of these front-line workers contracted the virus, which is something we can be very grateful about”.

More frequent inspections were conducted at premises to ensure that the public stayed protected. Basic principles such as hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and social distancing were taught.  In addition, important factors such as adequate ventilation, the use of personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection of transport vehicles and pest control, were also shared and monitored.

Today, COVID-19 education is still done at informal and formal businesses, which include the following:

  • beauty salons (barbers, hairdressers and tattoo parlours)
  • old age homes/retirement homes
  • retail stores
  • churches
  • banks
  • SASSA PAY points
  • soup kitchens
  • clinics
  • schools
  • crèches
  • homes of COVID-19 patients
  • correctional services
  • police stations
  • door-to-door awareness
  • libraries
  • farms
  • holiday resorts/spas
  • hospitals
  • funeral undertakers
  • milking parlours
EHPs monitor compliance at a funeral.

Despite the hard work already done by EHPs, many community members do not wear masks. EHPs also found that many people do not adhere to social distancing protocols and ignore other COVID-19 preventative measures. In some cases, family members of those who were awaiting test results moved around while they should have been in quarantine. It has also noted with concern that social stigma and discriminatory behaviour occurred against people with COVID-19 or those who recovered from it.  GRDM urges the public to play their part in helping to curb the spread of this virus instead of fuelling the stigma around this pandemic.

Despite all the challenges faced, EHPs will continue to roll out preventative measures to combat and curb the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus disease.