30 March – 3 April 2020
“But the lesson from the South Africans in Wuhan is that a lockdown works… The story of our South African returnees from Wuhan should give us encouragement and hope in the difficult weeks that lie ahead. Their story tells us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that if we stay the course, that if we remain disciplined and respect the lockdown, that if we work together, we will overcome.”
Please note: IN light of the announcement by President Ramaphosa on Sunday 23 March 2020 that South Africa will have a national lockdown for 21 days starting Thursday 26 March 2020, we have decided to take the following measures to protect our staff and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our offices will be closed and our staff will work remotely until 16 April 2020.
Our advice desk will remain available. The number to call or Whatsapp is 060 754 0751 or 067 419 6841.
We are also setting up a hotline for the public to contact public interest organisations regarding rights violations.
The week that was:
Open letter to the private sector
Together with partners Treatment Action Campaign, Rural Health Advocacy Project and People’s Health Movement, SECTION27 published and open letter to the private sector, urging for more support to combat of COVID-19. Central to our demands were increased financial support for the COVID-19 response, including the procurement of medical equipment and protective clothing. Read the letter here:
Budget Justice Coalition releases statement on COVID-19 measures and the need for a pro-poor fiscal stimulus
In a statement released on Wednesday 25 March, the Budget Justice Coalition (BJC) – of which SECTION27 is a member organisation – welcomed the government’s measures to combat COVID-19, including the lockdown. Ultimately, however, BJC has serious concerns that these measures maintain the government’s agenda of austerity, do not adequately protect and support livelihoods and that they leave the majority of the poor and unemployed vulnerable. BJC proposed a targeted pro-poor stimulus to combat COVID-19 effectively. Read more here:
COVID-19: Giving meaning to “social solidarity” through mental health support
SECTION27 Communications Officer Julia Chaskalson wrote an op-ed for Spotlight on mental health strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for integrated care – which includes both emergency medical care and mental health interventions. In order to further “social solidarity”, Chaskalson argued, mental health care and sympathy for those living with mental illness is key. You can read it here:
Education must continue throughout the pandemic
SECTION27 Head of Education Faranaaz Veriava wrote an op-ed about constitutional obligations to access of education in a time of crisis. The role of civil society organisations, she argues, is to support the measures implemented by government during this crisis, and to use this as a springboard for “Renewed and strengthened advocacy for affordable and quality education”. Read more here:
Spotlight reaches out to readers
Spotlight is looking for feedback from its readers. You can participate in an anonymous survey here:
TB in children: The amazing research being done in Cape Town
Medicines that taste like strawberries or mangos, cutting edge trials on preventing TB in kids, measuring how children’s bodies take up TB medicines – in this World TB Day feature Kathryn Cleary outlines some of the latest research into tuberculosis coming out of South Africa.
COVID-19: What happens to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous?
Due to social distancing concerns, most Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings have been cancelled. This is an issue for people recovering from addiction, for whom face to face meetings are part of the recovery process. Read more:
COVID-19: Government interventions have mixed reception in communities
Spotlight spoke to a diverse range of people – including community health workers, farm workers and community activists – to hear their responses to the declaration of a state of disaster, and government’s measures aimed at combatting COVID-19.
World TB Day: What does COVID-19 mean for people with TB?
In another World TB day feature, Spotlight explores what the current crisis of COVID-19 means for people living with tuberculosis, which is believed to make people more vulnerable to the Corona Virus. “This poses a particular problem in South Africa, which is one of the 10 highest burden TB countries in the world and has a relatively weak health system,” writes Amy Green.
COVID-19: SA’s lockdown is a brave decision in uncertain times
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21 day national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, starting Thursday 26 March at midnight. Marcus Low welcomes the decision, calling it a “pre-emptive, or at least an early, strike against the virus”.
COVID-19: Leading health experts welcome lockdown as ‘right thing to do’
Spotlight spoke to a range of health experts who were unanimous in their support of the announcement of a 21 day national lock down in South Africa, aimed at combatting the spread of COVID-19 and ‘flattening the curve.’ Read more from Alicestine October:
COVID-19: What you may and may not do during South Africa’s 21-day lockdown
A number of conflicting directives were issued from government pertaining to what is and isn’t allowed during the national lockdown. Here, Spotlight outlines what is prohibited to do and what is not for the next three weeks. Elri Voigt focuses on – among other things – the delivery of NSFAS allowances, SASSA grants, homeless shelters, old age homes, defining essential services, going to the shops and public transport.
COVID-19: Lockdown responses from farm workers to sex workers to CSOs
Spotlight reached out to sex workers, farm workers, health-care worker organisations, civil society organisations and community activists to hear their responses to the announcement of a national lockdown. Read this article from Alicestine October:
COVID-19: Testing to be ramped up and new tests in pipeline
Research has shown that a lockdown will only be effective in countering COVID-19 infection if it is coupled with comprehensive testing roll-out. Here, Adele Baleta illustrates plans to boost testing and tracing capacity, and examines how we test for the virus.