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).”
APPEAL TO BUSINESSES
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 www.westerncape.gov.za/coronavirus
COVID-19 MACC STAKEHOLDERS
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.
STAY SAFE, HYGIENE IS A PRIORITY
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
IMPORTANT NUMBERS FOR EVERYONE TO SAVE
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.