Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Bloemfontein: The Free State government has identified 25 quarantine facilities to accommodate people who have had contact with COVID-19 patients.

“We have 10 quarantine facilities that are state-owned whilst 15 are privately-owned. The rest will be announced once ready for occupation,” Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela said.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, on the province’s risk adjusted strategy on COVID-19, she said a vigorous repair and maintenance programme has been undertaken by the provincial Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

The programme has been undertaken to improve conditions of these facilities and bring them up to an acceptable level.

“These facilities are primarily used to isolate our people who have had contact with COVID-19 patients for continuous monitoring by our health workers. In total we have almost 1 700 beds across the province. We have satisfied ourselves that all the sites are habitable and decent to accommodate people,” said the Premier.

Meanwhile, maintenance work has been completed at Phillip Sanders Resort and Transnet Lodge in Bloemfontein. As of Tuesday, 56 people have been quarantined at Phillip Sanders, while a further 129 are under quarantine at Transnet Lodge.

Maintenance work has been completed at the following resorts to be utilized for quarantine:

  • Willem Pretorius in Lejweleputswa District;
  • Seekoevlei and Sterkfontein Resorts in Thabo Mofutsanyane District.

The resorts will be handed over to the Department of Health on Wednesday.

“Through the sterling work of the Provincial Department of Health, our government has to date, screened 1 352 787 people. This constitutes over 40 % of the provincial population. I am proud to announce that as of this morning, 3 302 of 3 324 contacts have been traced. The screening and tracing is ongoing as we speak,” Ntombela said.

The province has conducted 19 834 tests by the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS).

Areas where water is a challenge have also be identified. These areas have been provide with tanks and tankers.

To date; 2 622 tanks have been procured; 1 806 tanks have been delivered and 134 trucks have been procured and delivered.

Social services

Ntombela acknowledged work done by the Department of Social Development in ensuring that communities especially the homeless, are provided with shelter and food.

“Since the beginning of the lockdown, the department in partnership with municipalities distributed food parcels to vulnerable communities through the Community Nutrition Development Centres, Non-Profit Organisations, and Faith-Based Organisations.”

“In addition to the distribution of food parcels to the most vulnerable, we have also intervened in various cases related to Gender Based Violence and provided psycho-social support services to affected individuals and families,” she said.

The distribution of food parcels in the province is as follows:

  • Community Nutrition Development Centre (CNDC) – 4 311
  • Drop-in Centres and Protective Workshops – 6 060
  • Departmental Equitable Share – 2 482
  • Distribution of Food Parcels by National Lotteries Commission – 938
  • Distribution of Food Parcels by South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) – 7487

The total number of homeless persons accommodated at shelters continues to fluctuate, and has since decreased from 317 to 269 due to re-unification with families and other issues.

The province has worked with various stakeholders, including taxi organisations to disinfect all the 65 formal taxi rank structures.

“To protect the drivers and the passengers in the taxi industry, we have provided the Provincial Taxi Council and Taxi Associations with disinfection gel, sanitisers, masks and gloves. We will continue to ensure that public transport modes adhere to the rules of sanitisation and social distancing. We plead with our public transport users to bear with us, and adhere to the rules.” said the Premier.

Also speaking at the event, MEC for Health in the Free State; Montseng Tsiu, said that the province is no more experiencing exponential surge of any new cases and devastating uncontrolled high rate of infections like in the past. However, Bloemfontein remains an area of focus and the department is not taking the eye from the ball.

Free State statistics as on the 18 May 2020 was as follows:

Approach and strategies:
Tsiu said thay the department is Evidence Driven and did the following:
Situational analysis
Cluster analysis
Case management
Vulnerability index
Targeted interventions
Impact of lockdown
Personal Protective Clothing (PPE’s)

“We are currently having
protective clothing although the numbers vary based on the consumption rate. We are also enjoying donations by support coming from business and partners in the province,” said MEC Tsiu

Stigma and discrimination by community members

“We strongly condemn stigmatization and discrimination against positive community members. The same goes for promoting patient information confidentiality by all involved in patient management directly or indirectly.” added Tsiu.

Health System Readiness

The department has a total of 1 078 quarantine beds in the province with the following breakdown:

Mangaung= 881 beds

Fezile Dabi= 40 beds

Thabo Mofutsanyana= 36 beds

Lejweleputswa= 55 beds

Xhariep= 66 beds

  • The province is also having ICU beds
  •  There is a total of 449 isolation beds mainly at Pelonomi, Universitas and other hospitals in the province.
  • There is also a plan in place to establish 500 makeshift beds for a field hospital. This will be used should we have any eventuality and a need for more hospital beds.
“We will have a special function to acknowledge all the people that support us as individuals and as acollective in a fight against Covid-19.” concluded MEC Tsiu.