EHPs who conducted the compliance visits were (fltr): Willie Plaatjies and Johan Smith (Oudtshoorn), Marcelles Hurling and Haemish Herwels (Riversdale) Desmond Paulse and Elizna Cairncross, with (front, sitting) Francois Koelman (Oudtshoorn). Monique Anthony and Ikhanya Hendriks (Mossel Bay), as well as Ivy Mamegwa, Jessica Erasmus, Clive Africa (Executive Manager: Community Services) and Johan Compion (Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services) from George, were absent during the photograph.
“Everyone was found to be 100% compliant following a routine inspection by Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) to Oudtshoorn households,” said GRDM Manager for Municipal Health Services of the Klein Karoo Region,” Mr Desmond Paulse.
On Friday 17 July 2020, EHPs from GRDM offices in the Hessequa, Mossel Bay and George sub-districts joined the GRDM Oudtshoorn EHPs to conduct COVID-19 compliance inspections at 71 households where positive COVID-19 patients were in self -isolation. Compliance visits include checking if those who are supposed to be in isolation are at home and are following all COVID-19 protocols.
In concluding each visit, EHPs donate bottles of sanitiser sprays to each household and continue to raise health and hygiene awareness in the affected areas. Each household is given pamphlets relating to home care advice and how to properly disinfect one’s home.
Mr Desmond Paulse shared a word of gratitude to all participants who supported the Oudtshoorn EHPs during the visits in their effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to save lives.
Home care advice
Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water,
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and throw the tissue away safely in a bin,
Double-bag household waste and store for 5 days before putting it out for collection.
How to clean and disinfect surfaces in your home
Mix 6 teaspoons of bleach with 1 litre (4 cups) of water and apply to the surface. Leave for 2 minutes and then wipe off with water.
While South Africa is still operating under alert level 3, hairdressers, barbershops, nail and toe treatment, facial treatment, make-up, body massage, tattooing and body piercing were allowed to re-open their doors on 19 June 2020. However, stricter health and hygiene protocols had to be in place at all these businesses to protect their employees and the public. The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is in full support of these businesses to operate again after many employers and employees were left without an income for nearly three months, as long as all the protocols are adhered to.
Following to the opening of these businesses, the GRDM also received applications for new businesses to open their doors. All existing and new businesses are required to be in possession of a health certificate issued by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP), said Mr Johan Compion, GRDM Manager Municipal Health and Environmental Services. “If a hair salon, barbershop or body piercing shop doesn’t have one, the owner needs to apply for it by contacting one of our offices for more information, otherwise enforcement will take place,” he said.
DETAILS TO BE PRESENTED WHEN APPLYING
These are the details all barbers and hairdressers need to present when to apply for a health certificate:
The business name
The physical address of the premises
The name and identity number of the owner or person in charge
HEALTH CERTIFICATE RULES
The health certificate must be displayed in a conspicuous manner on the premises and it must be clearly visible to everyone entering the premises.
The health certificate is not transferable from one owner to another or from one premises to another.
The certificate should be renewed in case of change of ownership; in the case of renovations/additions to the existing premises and if the service moves from one premises to another premises.
For an application of a Health Certificate, structural requirements, waste management requirements, and any other standards, make contact with the following GRDM EHP chiefs:
Soup kitchens in Dysselsdorp, which forms part of the Greater Oudtshoorn municipal area, provide an ideal service for those who struggle to make ends meet by providing food assistance. Soup kitchens serve food to anyone who arrives at their doorstep and often serve meals, consisting of not only soup, but sandwiches too. Volunteers assist to prepare meals, serve food, and help with cleaning up.
In Dysselsdorp, the community and spiritual leaders have set the tone for the establishment of soup kitchens. They contacted the Municipal Health Services office of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in Oudtshoorn for guidance regarding minimum requirements and approvals. Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) continue with inspections of soup kitchens and ensure that they always comply with health requirements.
According to Mr Desmond Paulse, GRDM Manager for Municipal Health in Oudtshoorn, the EHPs continue to work closely with the Department of Social Development in terms of soup kitchen applications and approvals. “A protocol and guidelines specifically relating to operating a soup kitchen during the COVID-19 pandemic was developed and now there are ten approved soup kitchens operating in Dysselsdorp,” he said.
New soup kitchens must adhere to the minimum structural requirements in terms of building control (ventilation and lighting), potable running water, basic health requirements including sufficient working surfaces, temperature control, vector control, disposal of waste, provision of toilet facility and hand washbasin on preparation sites, including hand-sanitizing agents. Personal protective equipment for food handlers, regular health screening of food handlers and approved storing facilities for the storage of food and utensils must be provided.
These general COVID-19 requirements include:
Ensuring social distancing when receiving food at identified soup kitchen.
People must not gather at the facility after receiving their food.
Face masks and gloves to be worn by persons distributing the food.
Provision of sufficient hand wash facilities on site to accommodate people receiving food.
EHPs monitor the soup kitchens in Dysselsdorp with the assistance of the Expanded Public Workers Programme workers to ensure that the COVID-19 measures are implemented. Furthermore, regular inspections are carried out by the EHPs to ensure compliance and that all basic health requirements are met and to ensure that food is prepared hygienically and safe for consumption to vulnerable residents of the area.
During the past weekend (3-5 July 2020) essential workers from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) continued with their schedule to disinfect areas in George in their endeavour to reduce the risk of the transmission of the COVID-19 Coronavirus in the district.
Fourteen (14) Environmental Health Practitioners and 12 Firefighters from GRDM accompanied by Municipality’s Portfolio Chairperson for Community Services, Cllr Khayalethu Lose, with the assistance of the South African Police Services, formed part of the operation. The disinfection took place at areas located in Thembalethu, Pacaltsdorp, Lawaaikamp and Maraiskamp, with the focus on reaching the emerging hotspots in George. Routine visits to those in self-quarantine or self-isolation at their private residences also formed part of the operation. This is done to ensure that members of the public adhere to the regulated COVID-19 protocols and for team to continue with contact tracing. It is also welcomed by patients because a time in isolation or quarantine can be lonely.
The Garden Route District Municipal team disinfecting various areas in George.
In the Thembalethu area, the Shopping Square, 30 taxis and the garage area were disinfected, as well as the inside of shops and business premises. According to GRDM Station Officer: Fire & Safety Training, Mr Deon Stoffels, who supervises the operations, these businesses include: barbers, hair salons, timber shops and car spares shops. “The operation continued in Pacaltsdorp with the outside of the food retail stores and all other places where many feet pass through,” he said. In the Rosemoor residential area, all main shops and four spaza shops in Protea Park were also disinfected.The operation continued in Pacaltsdorp with the outside of Spar, the Mingo Camp and all main shops that were disinfected,” he said. In the Rosemoor residential area, all main shops and four spaza shops in Protea Park were also disinfected.
As part of the programme, bottles of disinfectant, hand sanitisers and soap are handed over to the owners and/or representatives of the respective public areas, as well as patients/contacts at private residences to ensure they and the environment they live in, are kept hygienic and safe.
According to Mr Johan Compion, Manager for Municipal Health and Environmental Services at GRDM, visits to disinfect these spots were not randomly done. He explained: “These areas were identified as hotspots or to reach patients who have tested positive for COVID-19”. Compion further said: “During our visits to especially the private residences, 3.77% of these were non-compliant, but we issued notices of warning to all who did not comply to the regulations that were put in place by the Western Cape Department of Health”.
“As part of the continued programme, we plan to visit and disinfect more areas in the Garden Route,” Mr Clive Africa, GRDM Executive Manager for Community Services, said. He concluded and confirmed that areas in Mossel Bay and Knysna will be the next areas where similar exercises will be conducted in the upcoming weeks.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) as a member of the National Joints (NatJoints) Committee, has to respond to combating the spread of COVID-19 in terms of the Disaster Management Act, No 57 of 2002, as stipulated in the NatJoints Containment Work Stream.
The DPWI has identified the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Non-State Sector (NSS) Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) as the best response mechanism to support the Department of Health to deliver necessary public health services at elementary level for purposes of COVID-19 spread prevention and control. To give effect to this commitment, DPWI has signed a three month addendum with the Independent Development Trust, on 12 April 2020, to contract qualifying NPOs throughout the country in 44 districts and 8 metros, to appoint youth (16-35 years) to participate in this initiative. The NPOs will also be required to sign three month contracts with each EPWP participant. The Garden Route district was allocated 119 participants for the first category of the COVID-19 response (George 41, Hessequa 23, Mossel Bay 15, Oudtshoorn 12, Bitou 10, Knysna 10 and Kannaland 8).
All participants will perform their duties under the supervision of the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). Their activities will include the following:
health promotion on COVID-19 prevention, hand washing practices and social distancing measures in public places;
distribution of hygiene soap and hand sanitizers in identified high risk communities, education on proper handwashing techniques;
home-to-home education interventions, where required; and
cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched high-risk areas, e.g. communal water collection points, taxi ranks and other places identified by the applicable municipality.
Furthermore the DPWI has issued Personal Protective Equipment and identification cards to the NPOs which must be used by participants while they are on duty.
GRDM EHPs had to identify the hotspots within the Local Municipal areas and guide the participants through an orientation programme to outline their work.
The orientation/ training programme
The Municipal Health Section of the GRDM was tasked to train the EPWP personnel in line with the Golden rules to prevent/minimise the spread of COVID-19 in the district. The training programme took place at the beginning of June 2020 and included the following disciplines:
Wearing of face masks in public areas and while travelling with other individuals in a vehicle (i.e. lift clubs, taxi, bus and/or any other form of public transport);
maintaining a social distance of 1.5m;
proper hand washing techniques;
avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;
proper cough etiquette;
waste management (i.e. disposable masks and gloves); and
avoiding crowded places as far as it is possible.
After undergoing orientation, appointed EPWP participants will conduct awareness at “hotspots” areas which were identified as problematic areas within communities to ensure that all members of the public remain adequately informed to protect themselves.
These “hotspots” areas include;
general public facilities, including municipal/ public toilets, taxi ranks etc.;
food premises – spaza shops;
informal settlements; and
government grant pay points – ATM’s, post offices and/or any other business premises which are utilised to distribute grants.
Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen, extended a word of appreciation to all stakeholders involved in the programme and highlighted: “As a municipality we are glad for the appointment of the EPWP personnel, as all participants will be a great addition to the initiatives of the GRDM in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic”.
The following stakeholders are involved in the coordination of this project; DPWI, Independent Development Trust, NPOs Edu-Plett and God Care International, Department of Employment and Labour, GRDM and Local Municipalities in the Garden Route district.
For more information regarding the project, contact,
Mr Mzimkulu Gusha, National Public Works Programme Manager
Tel: 021 402 2164 / 076 423 7558
Mr Richard Dyantyi, Manager: EPWP at Garden Route District Municipality
Tel: 044 803 1404 / 084 900 5556
Mr Johan Compion, Manager: Municipal Health at Garden Route District Municipality
Garden Route District Municipality, in collaboration with Bitou and Oudtshoorn Municipalities, will roll out a Household Composting Pilot Project in the Bitou and Oudtshoorn municipal areas. Approximately 30% of household waste being disposed of at landfill consists of organic waste that could potentially be diverted from landfill by means of household composting. Further, household composting could subsequently result in a huge waste management cost saving and put sorely needed nutrients back into our soil.
The pilot project will run for the duration of one year and the data collected will be used to motivate the further roll out of the project to all households in the Bitou and Oudtshoorn municipal areas. Permanent residents in the Bitou and Oudtshoorn areas are invited to apply for participation in the pilot project.
It must be noted that provision was made to accommodate only thirty (30) households per municipality in the pilot project who will be provided with a composting bin, and / or a worm farm, a scale and data sheets. Due to the limited number, the first thirty applications per municipality received will be selected to participate in the project.
All applicants must conform to the following criteria:
Must reside permanently in the Bitou or Oudtshoorn municipal areas for the duration of the pilot project (at least one year).
Must attend an information session regarding the composting project that will be held in Bitou and in Oudtshoorn respectively. (This may be an online / virtual session due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Must be willing to participate in the pilot project and report organic waste quantities on a monthly basis for the duration of the pilot project (one year).
Composting bins will only be distributed to households with a garden / lawn generating green waste.
Households / apartments that do not have gardens / yards i.e. that generate green waste can be provided with only a worm farm for kitchen scraps etc.
The National Minister of Basic Education, recently, announced the re-opening of South African schools for Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners on 01 June 2020.
To ensure that these learners enter a safe learning environment it was expected from teachers and principals to return to their schools on Monday, 25 May 2020. This period allowed officials/educators to prepare for the return of learners and to receive personal protective equipment. To ensure that the safe learning environment is maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Basic Education also issued a standard operating procedure which will be used by schools.
A crucial role-player in maintaining an overall healthy learning environment in the Garden Route, is the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Municipal Health Services function. Part of the responsibilities of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) are to survey and prevent communicable diseases from spreading – this exclude the roll-out of immunization campaigns. It entails the training, awareness and education of all the school circuits within the Garden Route district.
When referring to this critical period, Manager of Municipal Health Services at GRDM, Mr Johan Compion, said: “Health promotion and safety protocols will be addressed to combat the spread of COVID-19. This will be done in collaboration with the Provincial Department of Health and the Department of Education,” he added.
He furthermore highlighted that training of the school governing bodies has already started on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 in each sub-district of the Garden Route, which was conducted by EHPs of GRDM. He added that this will ensure that schools in the Garden Route district are equipped with information to implement a plan which they can effectively execute regarding disinfection and sanitation, especially for high risk areas, e.g. but not limited to:
All school vehicles (mini-buses any other vehicle);
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa allocates Municipal Health Services as a Local Government function under Part B of Schedule 4, Section 156 (1) (a). This means that EHPs from the GRDM have to conduct environmental health inspections at school premises in the Garden Route district. Furthermore, the National Health Act, 2003 (Act 61 of 2003) defines Municipal Health Services in terms of the following 9 Key Performance Areas:
(1) Water quality monitoring
(2) Food control
(3) Waste management
(4) Health surveillance of premises
(5) Surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases, excluding immunizations
(6) Vector control
(7) Environmental pollution control
(8) Disposal of the dead
(9) Chemical safety
In maintaining the health standard of schools in the Garden Route, the district will continue to roll out awareness about COVID-19 through promoting proper hand washing techniques, social distancing, cough etiquette, cleaning, sanitizing and continual disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.
The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) are working in the frontline through communities and workplaces, among others, to promote health and safety protocols that aim to address the spread of COVID-19. The National Health Act 61 of 2003 makes provision for a single national health system that includes EHPs who play a vital role in the management of pandemics.
“The roles and responsibilities of EHPs in response to COVID- 19 is significant and extensive. EHPs employed at GRDM continue their work as essential workers during this COVID-19 pandemic and they are doing an excellent job in our sub-districts. I take my hat off to all our EHPs who work in the frontline – many of them have families at home who worry about them too and we are grateful for their selfless service, dedication and compassion,” said GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen.
Executive Manager Community Services Mr Clive Africa echoed Mayor Booysen’s sentiments and added that the “monitoring of the disinfection of high risk areas is also done by GRDM EHPs. Local municipalities are responsible for the disinfection of communal and public toilets, taxi ranks and marketplaces, sidewalks, municipal properties, state owned properties, private properties, and camping sites.”
With their usual responsibilities, education by means of awareness programmes and visits to businesses have increased a lot. “GRDM EHPs have increased their education and awareness programmes in a bid to reduce the number of persons that could become exposed to COVID-19,” said Mr Johan Compion, Manager GRDM Municipal Health Services.
“When the risk of COVID-19 became more apparent, EHPs started distributing thousands of pamphlets and posters at shopping malls, supermarkets, food stores, spaza shops and to informal food traders,” Compion said.
Awareness about COVID-19 has been done through promoting proper hand washing techniques, social distancing, cough etiquette, cleaning, sanitising and continual disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.
EHPs also participate daily in the outbreak response teams activated at provincial and district levels by performing a range of activities, including:
ensure decontamination and disinfection of affected homes
contact tracing of those infected and their close contacts
monitoring of the management of the human remains and disposal of the dead
monitoring of the management of health care waste.
GRDM we would like to again extend a word of gratitude to our EHP essential workers out in the field leading the fight against the COVID-19 disease.
Herman Pieters | Senior Communicator
Garden Route District Municipality
The major outdoor (ambient) air pollution contributors in the Garden Route district include industrial activities, vehicle emissions and wood burning for household purposes. Due to the current lock-down, only around 20% of these industries have rendered essential services, while vehicle movement decreased by estimate of between 10 and 25%.
According to the World Health Organisation (2013), ambient air pollution, as annual PM2.5, accounted for 3.1 million deaths and around 3.1% of global disability-adjusted life years and the health effects includes respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity, such as aggravation of asthma and respiratory symptoms.
The lockdown has resulted in a reduction of some air pollutants across the district, but not all pollutants react as immediate as others, for instance, carbon monoxide is known to remain in the atmosphere for a couple of years. It is however estimated that there is a 6% global reduction in carbon dioxide emissions due to countries partially shutting down their economies.
As the cooler winter months, approaches some domestic emissions may increase in the informal residential areas, for example, particulate emissions from woodstoves and fires that are used for household purposes. According to experts, economic recovery will receive priority after the lockdown, even if it is to the detriment of the environment. It is therefore vital that authorities involved in air quality management must continue to strive towards a reduction in emissions.
Air quality in George appears to indicate a general decreasing trend in air pollution between 1 March and 27 April 2020 as seen in figures one and two. These results have undergone quality assurance and are compared with time average concentration limits in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for each criteria pollutant to determine any exceedances or non-compliances with standards.
During the development of the GRDM 3rd Generation Air Quality Management Plan, ambient air quality modelling was undertaken in most of the towns in the district. Emissions from industrial activities and traffic were estimated and modelled to identify any possible air quality hotspots for further monitoring. Below are images of dispersion modelling with an estimated 10% of the vehicle data count before the national lock down in Knysna Central Business District and ambient emission with only one listed activity in operation during the NLD in Oudtshoorn.
The impact of industrial activities and vehicle emission are estimated by making use of emission factors obtained from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and modelled by making use of dispersion modelling software.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has developed a country-specific Air Quality Index (AQI) in line with best international practices to simplify the reporting of air quality to the general public. This data can be viewed live by the general public at www.saaqis.environment.gov.za. The AQI is derived from six (i.e. PM10, PM2.5, CO, O3, SO2 and NO2) criteria pollutants, for good air quality (scale 1) to hazardous (10) based on National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Currently, there are three Western Cape Government-owned ambient air quality monitoring stations located in the GRDM, viz. in Mossel Bay, George and Oudtshoorn. The George monitoring station reports live data to the South African Air Quality Information Systems (SAAQIS). The current status in terms of the AQI is one (1 = very good) in George, while for the entire country it is currently 3, which is also considered to be good.
According to satellite images below, obtained from (Copyright (c) 2020 Cameron Beccario 2020), there was a 48% reduction in ground level SO2 pollution on 22 April 2020, when compared with 28 April 2019. The same phenomenon occurred with PM10, which indicates a reduction of almost five times. This correlates well with international studies reported by the international media in respect of PM2,5 concentrations being four times lower than normally experienced in major polluted cities across the world.
Although there is a reduction in air pollution, the effect of air pollution is experienced over years. It is indeed so that the current improvement in air quality is too little over a short period of time to make a significant effect. However, people could again see clear skies over places where it was not possible for the last couple of years. The most valuable benefit therefore would be the awareness that flow from the visible improvement and the subsequent effect on people’s perceptions. The perceptions of affected communities is paramount for effective air quality management.