Category: Municipal Health

COVID-19 awareness sessions in the Bitou area

In an effort to prevent the spread of the corona virus, the Plettenberg Bay based Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality continue to raise awareness about the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

On 20, 23 and 25 March 2020 officials visited KwaNokuthula, Crags and Kranshoek areas in Bitou to distribute flyers to the residents.  During these visits officials educated residents about the pandemic and asked them to also share all essential messages to their respective households, family members and friends to prevent the virus from spreading widely among communities.  Proper hygiene practices, regular hand-washing, keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between oneself and others were shared.  Spaza shops, taxi ranks, informal settlements, petrol stations, police stations and clinics, were among the sites/spots that were visited – some were revisited. Members of these communities welcomed and appreciated the visits from the EHPs.


Op 20, 23 en 25 Maart 2020 het die Omgewingsgesondheidspraktisyns van Plettenbergbaai gemeenskappe van KwaNokuthula, Crags en Kranshoek in Bitou besoek, om pamflette aan die inwoners te versprei. Tydens hierdie besoeke is inwoners oor die korona pandemie opgevoed en versoek om alle noodsaaklike boodskappe met hul onderskeie huishoudings, familielede en vriende te deel, om sodoende te verhoed dat die virus wyd onder gemeenskappe versprei.  Behoorlike higiëne praktyke, gereelde handewas gewoontes, en die handhaaf van ‘n minimum afstand van 1,5 meter tussen jouself en ander is bespreek . Inwoners van hierdie gemeenskappe het die besoeke van die Omgewingsgesondheidspraktisyns verwelkom en waardeer.

COVID-19 Multi-Agency Command Centre Established for the Garden Route

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), yesterday, 19 March 2020, established a COVID-19 Multi Agency Command Centre (MACC) at its head office in George. This follows Western Cape Government’s call on all districts to do the same to ensure that the various clusters share what is happening closer to grassroots level. Clusters are categorised into the following stakeholder groups: Transport; Social Services and Education; Health; Safety and Security; and Communications.

“We are one of the first Districts to act proactively in ensuring that our clusters are up-and-running,” said Cllr Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality.

“I am thankful for our Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu’s leadership and quick response to the pandemic,” said Booysen. “Stratu meets with his Senior Management on a daily basis to discuss the organisation’s readiness and receives feedback from Disaster Management about the status of agencies and communities. Our GRDM Manager: Municipal Disaster Management, Mr Gerhard Otto’s also acted swiftly in getting all stakeholders together. He keeps key stakeholders in the Garden Route up to date on developments from a provincial and national level since the onset of COVID-19 in South Africa. In terms of communication, our organisation’s Communication Unit continuously communicates with communicators at a national, provincial and b-municipal level. A group for staff members have been created where awareness is filtered to all levels of employees, who are then tasked to communicate messages to contacts in their phone books. We also use Facebook and Twitter to share information,” said Booysen.

Otto yesterday confirmed that there are 47 cases of COVID-19 in the Western Cape at the moment, and 150 in South Africa on 19 March 2020.

Dr Terence Marshall (Department of Health) who leads the Health Cluster, during the first MACC said that they are currently starting on phase two of responses for COVID-19. “Additional sites are being identified for testing and we are possibly also getting a mobile testing station.” He explained that they are already also “planning for phase three, which relates to large scale community transitions of the virus, and facilities for isolation”. One of the next important interventions that need immediate attention, is the “decongestion of public services”. Western Cape Government will shortly communicate the plan of action going forward to address this.

Dr Marshall also said: “A decision was taken that no visitors should be allowed at vulnerable sites (e.g. Old age  homes, correctional serviced and hospitals).”


The COVID-19 MACC acknowledges the major challenges businesses are experiencing right now. Many are taking innovative steps to allow for social distancing, like ensuring their employees not to use public transport and digitising more of their operations, but there is always more that can be done.

An appeal is, however made, to all employers to do what they can, to let employees work from home. Every business should develop a social distancing approach that means staff should not be forced to be in close proximity to each other.

A best practice guide together with other FAQs on COVID-19 is being developed to assist businesses to stop the spread and will be published at


There were about 35 stakeholders present at the first meeting, which was raised as a concern due to social distancing. Consequently, it was requested that only one or two people per cluster form part of the COVID-19 MACC which will take place on Monday – Friday mornings.

The list of stakeholders who were present at the first JOC, include: The National Department of Correctional Services, South African Police Services, Western Cape Department of Health, Western Cape Department of Health for Garden Route and Central Karoo, GRDM Economic Development and Tourism, George Pop, George Municipality, Go George, Emergency Medical and Ambulance Services, Provincial Traffic, South African Health Monitoring Survey, Life Bayview Hospital, Western Cape Department of Trade and Tourism, Airports Company of South Africa and George Fire and Rescue Services.


It is advisable for you to stay at home and self-isolate if you display the symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, sore throat) combined with the international travel history or came into contact with a confirmed case. Contact the Hotline on 0800 029 999. They will advise you on the next steps. For Western Cape citizens struggling to get through to the Hotline an alternative number has been set up to assist local citizens with health related information on COVID-19– 021 928 4102.

There are certain basic things the public can do to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Wash hands regularly, every 30 minutes for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover you cough and sneeze, in the crook of your arm or tissue and throw it away
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Reconsider or avoid non-essential international travel to affected areas
  • Keep a distance of at least one metre from people who are sick
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell


If a person develops flu-like symptoms, do not panic. Community members should isolate themselves at home. This means one must limit contact with others.

Please call the National Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999, the Provincial hotline: 021 928 4102 or WhatsApp “Hi” to 060 012 3456. A person can also call your health practitioner for further advice on what to do next. If unwell, stay home, except to get medical care as directed by the hotline or advice of health practitioner – do not go to work, school or public areas.


GRDM EHPs continue with the Coronavirus COVID-19 Campaign

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality, continues with a Coronavirus COVID-19 campaign by visiting various schools and other groups in George.

The campaign kicked off on Friday, 13 March 2020,  to create awareness about the Coronavirus disease – how it spreads, symptoms relating to it and how to prevent transmission, among others. Although no positive cases have been confirmed in the Garden Route yet, officials used the little time left before closing of schools on 18 March, to reach as many audiences as possible.

Teachers and learners at schools, toddlers and Caretakers at Crèches, EPWP workers in the district and elderly persons at Old Age Homes were among the audiences who were visited during the campaign. GRDM EHPs from Knysna, Bitou, Oudtshoorn and Kannaland, George, Hessqua and Mossel Bay also distributed posters and pamphlets to residents and members of the community within their respective areas of service.  These sessions continue to be well-received.

GRDM Municipal Health Services conducts Corona COVID-19 awareness at St Pauls Primary School

According to Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996,  “Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and to have the environment protected through reasonable legislative measures”.

In a quest to join forces with the rest of South Africa and to curb the rapid spread of the COVID-19, also called Coronavirus by many, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently embarked on a district-wide intervention by rolling-out a personal hygiene and coronavirus awareness campaign.

To start off the campaign, EHPs of the George office visited the St. Paul’s Primary School in George, where they explained the importance of good hygiene practices to learners.  In a very simplified way, officials engaged with children about COVID-19, focusing on what the disease is; the symptoms; how the virus spreads and methods to prevent the virus.  A practical illustration on proper hand-wash techniques was demonstrated.  This kept learners attentive from beginning to end.

By the end of the session, the Executive Manager of Community Service, Mr Clive Africa thanked the Principal, Mr Baron Calvet for availing learners and teachers to attend the session.  Mr Africa extended a special word of gratitude to the caretakers of the school for keeping the learners bathrooms, which he visited unexpectedly, in such a clean condition.

Through this campaign, the GRDM acknowledges the power of children in helping to educate and inform parents, families and members of the community.  More sessions are underway at primary schools all over the district.

The Portfolio Chairperson of Community Services, Councillor Khayalethu Lose in his address encouraged learners to wash their hands regularly and to live responsibly in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

Mr Clive Africa – Executive Manager of Community Services inspired learners to apply everything they have learned at home.

Learners were very eager and enthusiastic to take part in the discussions.

Garden Route Skills Summit cancelled due to growing concerns over COVID-19 VIRUS

15 March 2020
Garden Route Skills Summit cancelled due to growing concerns over COVID-19 VIRUS

George – 15 March 2020. After carefull consultation between the Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Cllr Memory Booysen and GRDM Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu, a decision has been made to cancel the Garden Route Skills Summit which was planned for 19-20 March 2020 in Knysna.

“Following an increase of the number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa and in particular, the Western Cape, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global pandemic. We are disappointed that we are unable to hold such a Summit that was geared towards economic growth and skills development, but we know it is the right decision based on the information we have today,” said Monde Stratu, GRDM Municipal Manager.

GRDM will continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve. As a result, the District municipality is now directing that all its employees also stop traveling with immediate effect. This, however, does not include our Roads Services employees who travel while servicing Provincial Roads.




This morning, Thursday, 5 March 2020, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive.

The patient is a 38-year-old male who traveled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020.

The patient consulted a private general practitioner on March 3, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough. The practice nurse took swabs and delivered it to the lab.

The patient has been self-isolating since March 3. The couple also has two children.

The Emergency Operating Centre (EOC) has identified the contacts by interviewing the patient and doctor. The tracer team has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD. The doctor has been self-isolated as well.

This media briefing is to ensure that the public is immediately kept abreast. A press briefing will be held later after the parliamentary debate this evening to shed more light on this issue.

Dr Zweli Mkhize
Minister of Health

National Minister of Health – Update on Novel Coronavirus (2019-nC0V)

Date: 2 February 2020

The Department of Health, South Africa, continues to closely monitor the rapidly evolving developments surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak.

We confirm that there is no case of Novel Coronavirus in South Africa.

We continue to intensify screening at all ports of entry with a particular focus on our major air ports of entry. Evidence continues to support this approach as the vast majority of cases are introduced into territories outside of China by air travelers.

Evidence continues to suggest that asymptomatic individuals are highly unlikely to transmit the virus.
There has been some emerging developments in the past twenty four hours that will need to be investigated in detail to inform our state of preparedness:
Germany has reported the first case of third generation transmission of the virus.
The first death outside of China was reported in the Philippines- the 44-year-old gentlemen was a resident of Wuhan city who had travelled to the Philippines.

The virus has been cultured from stool for the first time from a patient who only presented with diarrhoea and no other symptoms. This has raised the possibility of feaco-oral transmission. The best way to prevent any infection that can be transmitted by the faeco-oral route is regular handwashing – in particular for breast or bottle feeding mothers. Therefore the message of regular hand washing cannot be stressed enough. We will very closely follow the emerging academic literature on this development.
There have been false claims that experts are encouraging people to get flu-shots to prevent Novel Coronavirus. I wish to stress that there is, at this stage, no vaccine for Novel Coronavirus although there is a lot of work going into developing a vaccine.

There is still no recommendation to restrict travel or trade with China. We have not put any restriction on travel or trade between China and South Africa although we do continue to advise that non-essential travel should be delayed until the situation abates.

The Chinese authorities keep us and the World Health Organization (WHO) regularly appraised of developments around the outbreak itself and the situation pertaining to our citizens living in China. Our Mission in China is well supported: a 24-hour telephone and online contact has been established. Food security for Wuhan City continues to be protected. We understand that the Chinese holiday and school and university holidays have been extended to limit movement between Chinese districts. Therefore we would encourage all our citizens who have been planning to go back to work or school in China to delay their return until further notice.

We wish to congratulate Universal Safety Products for their pledge to assist China to replenish their face mask stocks. We call on the private sector at large to follow this example as nations come together to fight the spread of Novel Coronavirus in the wake of the WHO proclamation of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

African countries outside of South Africa will make their own pronouncements on their response to the Novel Coronavirus and we expect that, should there be a confirmed case, we will hear from the affected country’s authorities or the WHO.

Basic health prevention strategies remain the mainstay of controlling the spread of the Novel Coronavirus: avoid contact with someone that exhibits flu-like symptoms; regular hand washing; do not sneeze or cough into your hand – rather use another barrier; hygienic food preparation and not consuming undercooked or raw meat.

Reliable, credible information on the Novel Coronavirus can obtained from the WHO website and social media pages, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) website and social media pages and the Department of Health website and social media pages. We continue to receive a high number of calls through the designated hospitals and the clinicians 24-hour hotline.

The Emergency Opening Centre remains activated.


For further information:
Dr Lwazi Manzi
MLO Minister of Health
082 678 8979

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Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCoV) Outbreak in China and other countries in the world

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) office in China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. During January 2020, it was reported by the WHO that the cases were caused by Coronavirus. This virus is officially known as the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Most of the initial cases identified, were linked to seafood, poultry and a live wildlife market (Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) in the Hubei Province of China. Researchers suspect that the virus was transmitted by infected animals to humans, the source is, however, not confirmed.

According to the Executive Manager of Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Department Community Services, Mr Clive Africa: “There have been no cases of the 2019-nCoV reported in South Africa because active surveillance is in place to identify an imported case should one occur. This includes fever screening at international airports. Procedures are also in place for case isolation, management, as well as rapid specimen collection and transport to speed up the diagnosis. Designated hospitals with isolation facilities have been identified and protocols to follow up case contacts to ensure that the virus is held at bay.

What is 2019-nCoV?

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Many different types of coronaviruses are found in animals, but some of them can be transferred to humans.

The 2019-nCoV is a zoonotic disease is that spreads between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans.

Who is at risk to contract 2019-nCoV?

 Any person who travelled to or from Wuhan city, Hubei Province in China and has been in close proximity of an infected person who shows symptoms of being infected. Healthcare workers who care for patients with severe acute respiratory infections. People who have been in contact with an animal or an animal source in countries where 2019-nCoV is prevalent (the animal source transmission is still undetermined). Those who have compromised immune systems, especially vulnerable age groups like infants and the elderly, are at high risk of contracting the virus.

 How is 2019-nCoV transmitted?

Exposure to an animal source is suspected, but it is also known that the virus can spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (airborne).

The majority of the infections, to date, occurred in people who had close physical contact with confirmed cases and in health workers caring for patients with 2019-nCoV.

Coronavirus can also be spread in the following ways:

  • Touching or shaking hands with a person that has the virus;
  • Making contact with a surface or object that has the virus and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth; and
  • Contact with faeces – on rare occasions.

What are the signs and symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection in humans?

The reported symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

How to protect yourself if the virus breaks out here

  • Wash your hands thoroughly on a regular basis (see six (6) steps when washing your hands);
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are or appear to be sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick;
  • Practice respiratory hygiene (covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, followed by hand hygiene;
  • Use disposable masks;
  • Dispose of waste (especially tissues and masks) in a responsible manner; and
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (diluted bleach solution =1-part bleach to 99 parts water).

Follow these six (6) steps when washing your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  6. Close the tap with the towel

For any additional information with regards to 2019-nCoV, please contact:

Executive Manager – Community Services: Clive Africa on 083 253 3928.

Manager – Municipal Health and Environmental Services: Johan Compion on 082 803 5161.


Smutsville and Sizamile Street Vendors receive training

Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Knysna, Mr Mtetho Sithonga and Ms Mendy Tyhawana, presented an information and awareness session on 13 November 2019 to Informal Food Traders – also known as street vendors. These traders currently run their businesses in the Smutsville/Sizamile areas.

According to the traders, they primarily see a spike in business over weekends when they sell braai meat in front of taverns and on street corners.

In view of the information and awareness sessions provided by EHPs, Mr Johan Compion, Manager: Municipal Health and Environmental Services, said: “Ongoing health and hygiene education sessions play an essential role in the practices of food traders”.  He also confirmed the following: “Improper food handling practices, inadequate temperature control and poor food storage practices, as well as improper cleaning of equipment and utensils, cause foodborne illnesses.”

During last week’s session, EHPs focused on the five keys to safer food, compliance issues and incentives for those adhering to food safety standards.

The keys to safer food deal primarily with:

  1. Keep clean (dealing mainly with hygiene practices);
  2. Separate raw from cooked food (deals mainly with how to handle and keep raw food and cooked food apart to prevent cross-contamination);
  3. Cook food  thoroughly (deals mainly with the technique of cooking to ensure all the microorganisms  that were in the food are killed);
  4. Keep food at safe temperatures (this key focus on safe temperatures of storing cooked or raw food and the importance of not breaking the cold chain and the consequences of not adhering to that); and
  5. Use safe water and raw materials (importance of knowing the source of the water you use is safe or not safe, if not, how do you ensure that the water is safe. The raw material you use e.g. meat products, vegetables, etc. are from credible sources meaning they are being checked and authorised to trade.)

Mr Mtetho Sithonga, EHP and one of the presenters of the session, said: “Food safety is about producing, handling, storing and preparing food in such a manner, which prevents infection and contamination of food”. It is especially important to have Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for food in the big production chains as well. “In other words, food safety helps to promote good health by ensuring wholesomeness of food,” said Sithonga.

The crux of the matter is that education sessions promote the importance of public health. While awareness sessions remind food traders about the importance of a “health first” approach – so do inspections and enforcement. These mechanisms require synergy and ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors to make things work to the standard it was intended to by law. Strict adherence to standards and best practices is required for every food trader because they are the final point of sale of foodstuffs.

If anyone becomes aware of any suspicious food trading activities, or would like to lodge an anonymous complaint, contact the GRDM Municipal Health Services Department at 044 – 803 1522 or send the details to

Water Quality Monitoring in Oudtshoorn

Most diseases in the world are waterborne

Environmental pollution is one of the most serious threats facing all life on earth. It can be defined as the contamination of physical and biological components of the earth/atmospheric system to such extent that normal environmental processes are adversely affected (e.g. water, soil and air). Furthermore, a 2017 study by the World Health organisation (WHO) indicate that 80% diseases are waterborne. Industrialisation, discharge of domestic waste, radioactive waste, population growth, excessive use of pesticides, fertilizers and leakage from water tanks are major sources of water pollution. Humans are therefore the main culprits and pollute water

Water Pollution

Safe and readily available water is a primary human need as well as daily necessity, therefore it is directly linked to public health. Each person on earth requires at least 20 to 50 liters of clean and safe water on a daily basis for drinking, cooking or hygienic purposes. Water is also used for recreational purposes (e.g. swimming) and other activities – thus it is of high importance that water is safe and not contaminated.

Water pollution is defined as the contamination of water bodies like lakes, rivers, oceans and all ground water sources, usually as a result of human activities. Polluted water pose a serious threat to the health of humans, animals and plants. If humans do not put the necessary precautionary measures in place to prepare food, or accidentally ingests polluted water while swimming in a lake, lagoon or swimming pool, they can fall seriously ill and in some cases loose their life. Pollution also poses a serious threat to ecosystems by destroying it partly or completely, which often times take ecosystems decades to recover to its initial healthy state.

Ingesting polluted water can have the following health effects on humans:

  • Water borne illnesses – Cholera
  • Rashes – Typhoid fever
  • Stomach or liver illness – Gastroenteritis/ Hepatitis E
  • Respiratory problems – Botulism/ Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • Neurological problems
  • If left untreated, can cause death

The role of Environmental Health Practitioners

The role of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in terms of water quality (Health Professions Act 1974 (no 56 of 1974)), are as follows:

  • Monitoring water quality and availability, including mapping of water source.
  • Enforcement of laws and regulations related to water quality management.
  • Ensuring water safety in respect of safe quality (microbiological and chemical), and accessibility to an adequate quantity for domestic use as well as in respect of the quality of water for recreational, industrial, food production and any other human and animal use.
  • Ensuring that water supplies that are readily accessible to communities and to the planning, design, management and health surveillance of community water supplies, that are readily accessible to communities.
  • Ensuring monitoring and effective waste water treatment and water pollution control, including the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage and other water borne waste and control of the quality of surface water (including the sea) and ground water.
  • Advocacy on proper and safe water and waste water usage.
  • Water sampling and testing on the field or in a laboratory.

Monthly monitoring samples at the allocated points are taken by the Municipal Health Services Unit of GRDM. Sample types include: Sea, River, Lake, Sewage (final effluent) and Potable water.

What happens to water samples?

These water samples are transported to accredited Laboratory for bacteriological analysis. The samples are respectively analysed for Coliforms, Escherichia Coli, Feacal Coliforms, Vibrio Cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus just to mention a few types of analysis required by an Environmental Health Practitioner. The laboratory will send the samples results to the Environmental Health Practitioner within 1 week after the laboratory has received and analysed the sample.

After sample results have been obtained by the Environmental Health Practitioner it is his or her responsibility to ensure that the results are scrutinized and then handed over and explained to the responsible party. A monthly report is also sent to the local B – Municipality and to the council of GRDM wherein the water results are explained

If a water source has been contaminated or polluted and the water sample result proves that the sample does not comply to SANS 241 standards, and if deemed necessary, the public will be informed. The District municipality (e.g. social media, articles in local newspapers, radio, health and hygiene education by the Environmental Health Practitioners, etc.) will issue a notice of any risks or dangers regarding the water source that is polluted or contaminated and poses a threat to human life and the environment.

Water samples for chemical analysis will be transported and analysed at the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory in Cape Town. Upon receipt of sample results it is the Environmental Health Practitioners responsibility to ensure that the responsible party is informed about the sample results. A monthly report is also sent to the local B –Municipality and to the council of Garden Route District Municipality wherein the water results are explained.

Garden Route District Municipality’s Municipal Health Services Unit ensures that the role of the EHP in terms of water quality is being carried out in terms of the law and if necessary, that rectification takes place immediately.

If you are aware of any pollution activities, or would like to lodge a complaint, contact the GRDM Municipal Health Services Department at 044 – 803 1300 or send your complaint to