Author: Herman Pieters

Today is World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is marked every year to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes.

Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness to find the “missing millions”. Learn more here: https://www.worldhepatitisday.org/

WHAT IS HEPATITIS?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. Each type of hepatitis is caused a different virus and the 5 main hepatitis viruses are:

HEPATITIS A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccine. It spreads from contaminated food or water or contact with someone who is infected.

HEPATITIS B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. It can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.

Globally some 250 – 400 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B, with sub-Saharan Africa (sSA) and South-East Asia being disproportionately affected. Compared with the 1.5 million deaths annually due to HIV/AIDS, which are declining, hepatitis B mortality is on the rise with 500 000 – 1.2 million deaths annually. This relates in part to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the fifth most common malignancy and the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, despite the fact that hepatitis B is an entirely vaccine-preventable disease.

HEPATITIS C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. In rare cases it can be transmitted through certain sexual practices and during childbirth.

Hepatitis C can be more severe and is the most deadly, but even those with acute illness can recover without lasting liver damage. Up to 70% of those chronically infected with hepatitis C develop chronic liver disease, and up to 20% develop cirrhosis.

HEPATITIS D is spread through contact with infected blood through unsafe injections or transfusions.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is a virus that requires hepatitis B virus (HBV) for its replication. HDV infection occurs only simultaneously or as super-infection with HBV. The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery, as well as through contact with blood or other body fluids.

HEPATITIS E is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that’s been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Hepatitis E usually resolves on its own within four to six weeks. Treatment focuses on supportive care, rehydration and rest.

All of these viruses cause short term, or acute infection. However the hepatitis B, C and D viruses can also cause long-term infection, called chronic hepatitis, which can lead to life-threatening complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.

DIAGNOSIS AND SYMPTOMS OF VIRAL HEPATITIS

When a patient reports the following symptoms viral hepatitis is likely and can be confirmed by blood test. These symptoms include:

  • fever,
  • tiredness,
  • abdominal pain,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • darkening of urine,
  • loss of appetite, and
  • jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and white of the eyes).

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you experience any of these potentially serious symptoms you need to see a doctor immediately:

  • persistent vomiting for longer than 6 hours,
  • extreme drowsiness, confusion or restlessness,
  • unusual bruising or bleeding, and/or
  • if jaundice continues for longer than 3 weeks.

PREVENT HEPATITIS BY:

  • providing safe food and water (hepatitis A and E),
  • practising good hygiene and sanitation,
  • having safe sex,
  • safe vaccinations (hepatitis A, B, and E),
  • avoiding getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities,
  • screening of blood donations and provision of sterile injecting equipment, and
  • reducing the risk of infection by not sharing needles, razors etc. with someone’s who’s infected (hepatitis B and C).

It’s important for you to be aware of hepatitis and to learn how you can protect yourself and your family from being infected. Transmission of this virus can be prevented through better awareness and services that improve vaccinations, safer injections and blood transfusions, and to reduce long-term damage and harm.

Watch this video to learn more: https://youtu.be/cVttqfgExL0

Speech by Mayor Booysen at an Ordinary Council Meeting of Garden Route DM

Thank you Alderman Speaker and once again, good morning to all Councillors present, those in Council Chambers and those who are working from home.

Alderman Speaker, in my culture they say that one builds a relationship by giving a handshake to another or by having eye-to-eye contact. I am now making eye contact with Councillor Wilbert Harris. I would like to relay to him that he is warmly welcomed as a member of our council. We have worked together on other platforms and are not strangers to one another, hence I will relay as Councillor Gericke did, when he congratulated our new Alderladies – let’s continue to do what we are elected to do. I am convinced that you will be able to efficiently do what you were elected to do.

Alderman Speaker, I must remind the people of the Garden Route that we are taking a lot of strain under COVID-19. Our region is still a hotspot and now one of the fastest growing in terms of rising active cases. This has been calculated in terms of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 in our area. We unfortunately keep peaking on a daily basis.

Once again, my plea to Garden Routers is to please abide by what we have been asked to do. We must wear our masks when we go out in public, we must wash our hands frequently for 20 seconds or longer, we must exercise social distancing, and we must look after ourselves when making use of public transport. It is in every individual’s hands to collectively beat this virus together

Alderman Speaker, you did allude to some of our own colleagues who are infected, some are Councillors too. Our prayers are with them and we support them in everything they do. We hope and pray that those in quarantine do not become infectious.

Alderman Speaker, also on another sad note, there was a horrible accident in Plettenberg Bay over the past weekend and I am not going to mention names, because I was not given permission to do so. What I can say is that the lady who died was a personal assistant of mine when I was Mayor for Bitou Municipality. My heartfelt condolences go out to the friends, family and colleagues of the deceased. On behalf of the Garden Route District Municipality, our prayers go out to them – may the Lord give them strength over this time.

Alderman Speaker, we also buried our former Integrated Development Manager the past weekend in Molteno, one of the last items he prepared for today’s meeting. I want to say that those of us who had been to Mr Cekiso’s funeral followed all necessary protocols and safety measures on the day. We did not even get out of our vehicles at the cemetery or anything. Apart from us being sanitised our clothes and the area around us were disinfected.

Thank you Alderman Speaker.

Alderlady status conferred upon two (2) additional Councillors of the Garden Route District Municipality

News Release
For Immediate Release
27 July 2020
Two new Alderladies for Garden Route District Municipality

Alderlady status conferred upon two (2) additional Councillors of the Garden Route District Municipality. They include Alderladies Jennifer Harnick & Iona Kritzinger.

The bestowment of Alderman or Alderlady statuses occurs upon the commencement of a councillor’s term as Executive Mayor, Executive Deputy Mayor or Speaker of Council. Furthermore, any Councillor who obtains a minimum of ten (10) points on the following scale, also qualifies for the conferment: One (1) point for every year of service as a Councillor at one or more municipalities and it need not be continuous; and one (1) additional point for every year of service as a member of the Mayoral Committee.

Aldermen/Alderladies also receive the following privileges:

  • provision of a special parking space in the municipal parking area on prior arrangement;
  • provision of agendas even after retirement in electronic format if so required;
  • Alderman/Alderlady is kept on municipal invitation lists; and
  • reserving of special seats at Council Meetings should a member so wish; issuing of an Honorary certificate.

Garden Route Health Platform Update – 24 JULY 2020

News Release
For Immediate Release

As of 24 July 2020, the Garden Route District has 4563 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Cases 

Garden Route cases and recoveries per subdistrict.

  • Bitou 304 cases; 171 recoveries
  • Knysna 767 cases; 412 recoveries
  • George 2026 cases; 1304 recoveries
  • Hessequa 109 cases; 66 recoveries
  • Kannaland 45 cases; 28 recoveries
  • Mossel Bay 978 cases; 526 recoveries
  • Oudsthoorn 334 cases; 195 recoveries

The Garden Route has recorded 108 Covid-19 deaths.

Hessequa 3
Mossel Bay 15
George 49
Knysna 17
Bitou 10
Oudtshoorn 14

Hospitalisation

There are currently 109 patients admitted in public and private hospitals with 35 in High Care/ICU.

Community Testing and Screening

The approach to active Covid-19 case finding within the rural areas remain that of community testing and screening with a focus on people > 55 years, the vulnerable and those of high risk (people with co-morbidities). To date 142 310 people have been screened and 1223 referred for testing.

Isolation and quarantine

Isolation facilities are for patients with mild to moderate symptoms where they can recover from Covid-19 and quarantine facilities are for those awaiting test results. These facilities are safe and comfortable and you will receive free transport, meals, and a laundry service. People who cannot isolate or quarantine safely at home, can be referred to a isolation or quarantine facility.

PetroSA (West Camp) is currently the only activated isolation and quarantine facility in the Garden Route. More facilities will be announced, if and when the need arises or capacity is exceeded at PetroSA. We currently have 68 people at West Camp.

Primary healthcare                                                                                                        

Our Primary Health Care platform is an important vehicle to support our health system, so that our patients are well cared for to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Although we advise patients to only visit their nearest clinic for essential services we remind parents and caregivers that services such as immunisations are still rendered. It is important to attend all your confirmed appointments. Services such as women’s health(family planning, antenatal and post-natal care), child health(immunisations) and TB, are still rendered. Stable chronic care patients must collect their chronic medicine at the chronic off-sites. Should you require guidance or advice around your current treatment or scheduled appointment, please contact your clinic/hospital.

Shielding the vulnerable

Persons over the age of 55 or have a chronic condition are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness and should take extra precautions to protect themselves by following these steps:

  1. Avoid getting the virus by staying home, wear a mask (when you have to go out), wash hands regularly and disinfect surfaces
  2. Look after your health by following a healthy lifestyle and take your medication regularly
  3. Get help immediately if you do not feel well
  4. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, go for immediate testing, do not delay

The Department has implemented an action plan for Diabetics with COVID symptoms which includes expanding testing for diabetics who represent a high risk group. Our current data suggests that these patients are presenting or are being admitted too late in a very sick conditions, which has dire outcomes.

Next 100 days

The Department has identified the next 100 days as crucial to refocusing the health system and health services while still managing the pandemic with continued interventions to increase immunisation coverage, TB treatment and ART uptake.

We urge all citizens to remain careful in observing the essential 5 Golden Rules of hygiene and safety. It remains important to take particular care of persons with underlying conditions and particularly Diabetes, who are at significantly increased risk of severe COVID-19. We urge these people to really take special care and to shield themselves from exposure where possible.

The protection of our most vulnerable loved ones remains in our collective hands.

-END-

Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health
Town Clinic,Plettenberg Bay
Tel: 044 5333846

News Release: New Mobile Air Quality Sensor for the Garden Route

News Release
For Immediate Release
22 July 2020

The Garden Route District Municipality procured a new ambient air quality sensor for monitoring ambient air quality. The Zephyr® is a compact and lightweight ambient air pollution sensor that accurately measures harmful gases and particle matter.

​“Zephyr® sensors provide detailed air quality measurements in real-time to help identify pollution hotspots at a localised level such as busy road junctions, industrial activities and at area sources such as sewerage works, pumps station and stockpiles,” said Dr Johann Schoeman, GRDM Manager Air Quality Management.  The district might procure more sensors over time to be able to easily deploy district-wide analysis and optimisation of pollution-lowering initiatives. Ambient monitoring is a legislative requirement for District and Local municipalities and one of the objectives of the Garden Route 3rd Generation Air Quality Management Plan.

​Every unit is GPS enabled and can be used as a static or mobile sensor for while walking, cycling or driving.

Pollutants being measured

How it works

1. Power: Via a solar panel or DC power supply
2. Zephyr: Measures pollutants in the air in real-time
3. GSM: Built-in connection captures and sends data
4. SQL Database: Raw data is stored and calibrated
5. Upload Server: Data is authenticated and converted
6. Data access: Access and download your Zephyr data
7. MyAir: Access data via your online dashboard
8. API: Integrate data into an existing system

Every Zephyr® air quality sensor is calibrated prior to dispatch and its calibration performance is tested against reference standard analysers. Furthermore, every Zephyr® comes standard with a calibration certificate.

While the sensor is deployed, real time measurements can be accessed by the District Air Quality officers via a laptop, personal computer or cellular phone. This is extremely helpful especially when dealing with air quality complaints. Data is viewable in various formats such as excel spreadsheets, graphic formats or a dashboard. It can also be viewed as a snapshot, providing the user with  an overall view of the air quality in the current location, based on USEPA Air Quality indexes. GRDM already requested Earthsense, the manufacturer of Zephyr®, to adopt the index for our local conditions and to tweak the programme for South African National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The sensor is currently located in the Mossel Bay region where it is used as a tool to assist with an air quality complaint. The Garden Route has various air quality hot-spots, as identified in the AQMP. Therefore, the sensor will be moved around in the District to obtain the necessary air quality status of each of the hot spots. This data is essential in order to mitigate and improve the general air quality of the region.

It is also the District’s goal to expand the ambient monitoring network so that each town has its own Zephyr® to assist in achieving the GRDM Air Quality vision “To have air quality worthy of the name Garden Route”.

For any further information, please contact Dr Johann Schoeman on: jschoeman@gardenroute.gov.za or 044 803 1300.

ENDS

News release: COVID discharge: Ria Makhwenkwe

News Release
For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

Ria is going home – almost!  Sixty-four-year-old Ria Makhwenkwe, from Thembalethu has survived Covid-19.

During the first couple of days of her admission at George Hospital, Ria was critically ill, unable to speak more than a word at a time without resting.

Through the dedicated care of the team in the Covid ICU, supported by a tireless team of support services, Ria is nearly ready to be discharged back home. “I can’t believe how lucky I am to have survived. This is a really scary illness and I wish to never experience anything like it again! Thank you to everyone who took such good care of me, night and day”, she said.

The George Hospital Team wishes Ria all the best for the future.

-END –

Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health

 

Illegal dumping remains a problem in the Garden Route, all over South Africa and many parts of the world

News Release
For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

Illegal dumping and littering is still an ongoing problem in all nine provinces of South Africa. Moreover, with the lockdown and essential workers testing positive for COVID-19, many municipalities around the country experienced a backlog in their efforts to remove waste. Illegal dumping sites are now on the increase. These sites serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos and vermin such as rodents and cockroaches that can cause life-threatening diseases.

“Although the management of the illegal dumping of waste doesn’t fall under the ambit of GRDM, society as a whole has a collective responsibility to keep the environment clean in the same manner that they maintain cleanliness in their homes and yards. The ill-conceived notion that littering creates employment for cleaners simply degrades our public areas and health,” said Executive Mayor Alderman Memory Booysen. “I used to be the mayor of Bitou Municipality where we experienced the same issue. People illegally dumped waste and littered while government was blamed for not cleaning up the environment,” he said. “Municipalities never illegally dump waste in neighbourhoods,” he added.

Municipalities need the public to help combat illegal dumping by reporting perpetrators. These criminal activities by individuals or organised groups negatively impact the lives of particularly the elderly and children, as they often come into contact with dangerous and contaminated medical waste, including items that may be contaminated with the COVID-19 coronavirus,” said Clive Africa, GRDM Executive Manager for Community Services.

Local municipalities do their utmost to inform and educate residents regarding illegal dumping and using the available waste removal services. The cost involved in the removing and cleaning of illegal dumping is exorbitant and could be better utilised in delivering other desperately required services in the communities. Local municipalities also issue fines of up to R1000.00 to those found guilty of illegally dumping waste.

Communication Manager of George Municipality, Ms Chantel Edwards-Klose, has indicated that George Municipality has recorded more than 200 illegal dumping spots within their municipal area. “Our municipality has run illegal dumping awareness campaigns at a number of schools and implemented extensive awareness efforts on radio and social media over the years. Trespassers know that what they are doing is illegal, which makes it even sadder that they have no pride in their surroundings or concern for the well-being of their neighbours. It is so disheartening to our officials to clean up an area, at great expense, and go back a week later to find it filled with dumped refuse again.”

Illegal dumping and littering is an environmental crime

All contraventions of environmental legislation constitute a criminal offense. Environmental crimes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Environmental pollution
  • Criminal activities relating to damaging of natural resources and habitats
  • Illegal disposal, handling and management of waste
  • Damaging and destroying natural resources, habitats and biodiversity
  • Criminal activities associated with endangered and indigenous species of fauna and flora
  • Harming the health of humans by causing a range of diseases

While disinfecting areas within the region firefighters and environmental health practitioners from GRDM found tissues, builders’ rubble, cardboard, chemical substances, baby nappies, plastic bags, sanitary pads and condoms. “Community members say that they are annoyed by the surge of illegal dumping in front of their homes and in the streets during lockdown,” said Mr Deon Stoffels, GRDM Station Officer: Fire & Safety Training, who coordinates the COVID-19 disinfection task team.

How public can address the issue of littering and illegal dumping

  1. Talk to the person directly.
  2. Security camera footage or photo evidence can be provided to the municipality or police of when and where it occurred and who did it.
  3. Report those orchestrating dumping activities to the authorities.
  4. Report those dumping waste by providing their names, vehicle registration details or addresses of alleged perpetrators.
  5. Educate and be a good example to the children in your communities.

Illegal dumping hotspots in the Garden Route

Apart from open spaces, there are specific areas within each municipal boundary where illegal dumping happens more often than others. Remember, the illegal dumping of waste poses a threat not only to the environment, but the health and well-being of communities too.

Hessequa:  Theronsville, Aloeridge, Morestond and Kwanokuthula. Residents from the Hessequa municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 028 713 8020 or e-mail info@hessequa.gov.za.

Mossel Bay: Heiderand, KwaNonqaba, Alsapark, Highwaypark, Groot-Brakrivier, Hartenbos, Sonskynvallei, D’Almeida, JCC, Klein-Brakrivier, Glentana, Reebok, Fraaituitsig, Tarka, Ruiterbos and Friemersheim.  Residents from the Mossel Bay municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 044 606 5143 or 044 606 5000, SMS your complaint to 44802 or e-mail admin@mosselbay.gov.za.

George: Thembalethu, Protea Park, Lavalia, Rosemoor, Conville, Maraiskamp, Parkdene, Rosedale, Syferfontein, New Dawn Park, Seaview, Blanco, Touwsranten, Widlerness Heights Informal Settlement and Kleinkrantz Informal Settlement. Report those illegally dumping waste to 044 801 6350 or e-mail sprins@george.gov.za.

Knysna: Dam-se-Bos, Nekkies, Khayalethu, Concoria, Joodse Kamp, Smutsville, Karatara and Rheenendal. Residents from the Knysna municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 044 302 6405, e-mail rloxton@knysna.gov.za or WhatsApp to 081 556 3974.

Bitou: New Horizons, Kwanokuthula, Bossiesgif, Qolweni, Pine Trees, Green Valley, Harkeville, Kranshoek and Kurland. Residents from the Bitou municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to CustomerCare@bitou.gov.za or call 044 501 3174/5.

Greater Oudtshoorn: Bridgton and Bongolethu where illegal dumping is rife. Residents from the Greater Oudtshoorn municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 044 203 7800.

Kannaland: Informal settlements, Royal Heights and Protea Park. Residents from the Kannaland municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 078 409 9064.

All over South Africa

ENDS

IDP Manager for Garden Route District Municipality passes away

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

He will be remembered as a ‘humble, kind, calm and collected’ colleague

“It is with shock and broken hearts that we learned of the passing of one of our own employees yesterday to COVID-19,” said Alderman Booysen, Executive Mayor for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). Integrated Development Planning (IDP) Manager, Mr Mzukisi Cekiso is no longer with the GRDM. “Our prayers go out to his wife, child, family and friends – the District will never be the same again,” said Alderman Booysen. “The sun went down during the day.”

‘Mzu’, as he was fondly referred to by everyone, brought a breath of fresh air to the institution with his appointment on 1 February 2018. Part and parcel of his responsibilities were to manage and coordinate the IDP, Public Participation and Intergovernmental Relations functions for the district.

During a Zoom meeting today, 17 July 2020, with employees at GRDM, Alderman Booysen described Mzu as a man who often “presented his strong side to others”, who was also in contrast “a light-hearted person with a lot of ambitions”. Mayor Booysen said when Mzu bought a new vehicle he requested permission from Mzu to take it for a drive. Mzu jokingly responded: “my vehicle starts with only my own fingerprint”. Employees all have fond and happy memories of their engagements with Mzu.

Sadly, Alderman Booysen recalled one of the last messages Mzu sent to his wife Elethu in which he stated that “this COVID-19 nonsense is painful”. A scary and mind-opening fact about the seriousness of the virus.

GRDM Municipal Manager Mr Monde Stratu encouraged all Councillors and employees to be vigilant during this period because the COVID-19 Coronavirus is “vicious and knows no boundaries”. He also pleaded to employees, especially men, not to think that by avoiding to admit oneself to the hospital a person would be perceived as “brave at hearted”. He said: “You should seek medical assistance should the need arise”.

Mr Lusanda Menze, GRDM Executive Manager for Planning and Economic Development when asked to share his thoughts about Mzu, said: “A great son of the soil! Mzu’s passing came as a shock to many of us. I was in daily contact with him and he never showed any signs of apprehension. Having known him for close to 10 years, the Department is incomplete without him. I am really saddened by the loss of this kind, caring and gentle person who had an affable demeanour. He had the equanimity of dealing with complex issues and was [also] self-driven”.

Ms Mercy James, GRDM IDP Officer, was his right hand at work. She describes her time reporting to him by saying, “I was blessed to work with Mzu from 1 March 2018. Since the onset of my duties, he made it clear that the IDP unit was not about him, but that we needed to work as a team. Over time Mzu got to know not only my strengths, the areas of my skill set where I were not that strong.  He was determined to see me develop my strengths, rather than revealing my weaknesses. A true leader, who walked in front but close enough to his supporting team. I experienced him as humble, kind, calm and collected person, and he could easily handle my ‘differently tempered’ personality. I’m deeply saddened by his passing, but grateful that I had the privilege of working with a noble man like him.”

Mzu was involved in many government structures, well known to those working inside and outside the organisation, including premiers, mayors, municipal managers, IDP managers and the like. His sudden passing has left a void in the municipality. His colleagues and friends were not able to say goodbye before he left because everything happened so fast.

The municipality is in contact with Mzu’s family to provide the necessary assistance and support during this difficult period.  “This was too sudden, especially for those who were close to him…there are no words to explain the grief that all of us are observing even from afar,” Mr Stratu concluded.

May his soul rest in peace.

ENDS