“We probably cannot escape the exponential curve but the lockdown has bought us time.”

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on COVID19

On Thursday 9 April, President Ramaphosa announced an extension to the lockdown period until 30 April. This means that SECTION27 staff will continue to work remotely.

Our advice desk will only conduct telephonic consultations. The numbers to call or Whatsapp are 060 754 0751 or 067 419 6841.

The public interest organisations legal support hotline continues to be available to the public to contact regarding rights violations: 066 076 8845.

For more information about coronavirus visit https://sacoronavirus.co.za/.
Emergency Hotline: 0800 029 999. WhatsApp Support Line: 0600-123456.

OPEN LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION

As we enter the third week of a national lockdown, and with the President announcing the extension of the lockdown until the end of April, a pressing need is ensuring that learners have continued access to critical nutrition provisioning. Nine million children ordinarily benefit from the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). For many of these learners, the meal received at schools is often the only meal received for the day.

In light of the crucial role school meals play in the wellbeing and development of children, your initial response to concerns around access to meals was disappointing. Commenting on the capacity of the DBE to run feeding programmes, you have been​ quoted as saying​ that:

“​…we [the DBE] are not going to do anything different outside of what we normally do; we are not going to have special programmes; we are not going to run feeding schemes. We have accessed our capacity and we will not be able to do it.”​

Respectfully, this is not a tenable position. Hunger and malnutrition are serious concerns, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as both result in compromised levels of immunity.

https://section27.org.za/2020/04/open-letter-to-the-minister-of-basic-education-planning-in-a-time-of-crisis-school-feeding-schemes-can-and-must-continue/

GLOBAL CALL FOR A COORDINATED, EQUITABLE, AND HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED GLOBAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Dear heads of state and government of G20 countries,

We, the undersigned 99 organizations and 40 individuals, call upon you to ensure a robust, coordinated global response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that is humane, equitable, based in the universality of human rights, and meets the needs of countries and people who are most vulnerable and have the fewest resources.

We recognize that we are in an unprecedented situation of a colossal need for sharing and solidarity even as many of world’s wealthiest and best-resourced nations are experiencing their own severe public health emergencies. And we applaud governments that, even with domestic health emergencies, have offered support to other countries.

https://section27.org.za/2020/04/call-for-a-coordinated-equitable-and-human-rights-based-global-response-to-covid-19/

In the week that was

Community Mobiliser, Patrick Mdletshe joined the Kwa-Zulu Natal provincial technical command centre to lead a group of community health workers in the province’s tracking and tracing programme. He is participating provincial command council meetings in his capacity as chair of the provincial AIDS council.

In Spotlight

#Whatsitlike: The fascinating world of Surrogacy in South Africa

Isaacs says it was thirteen years ago when she gave birth to a little girl that was not hers. Isaacs who was 37 at the time decided to be a surrogate for a couple who could not have children. More recently, in September last year she helped another couple through surrogacy. This time she gave birth to twins.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/13/whatsitlike-the-fascinating-world-of-surrogacy-in-south-africa/

COVID19 Coverage

COVID-19: What we think we know about the epidemiological numbers

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to lockdown the country was largely based on epidemiological projections. It was projected that if the SARS-CoV-2-19 virus was allowed to spread unchecked to the extent that 40% of people in the country became infected, more than 350 000 people could die.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/14/covid-19-what-we-think-we-know-about-the-epidemiological-numbers/

COVID-19: What do South Africa’s numbers mean?

Marcus Low and Nathan Geffen

Most of the COVID-19 numbers we have paint only part of the picture and can easily be misinterpreted. Here are some tips on understanding the numbers.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/08/covid-19-what-do-south-africas-numbers-mean/

COVID-19: How rural healthcare workers are preparing

As government went on the offensive last week by scaling up testing and screening in communities across the country, some in the rural health sector are also proactively taking measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/08/covid-19-how-rural-healthcare-workers-are-preparing/

COVID-19: NHLS claims it can do 15 000 tests a day

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) currently has the capacity and test kits to do 15 000 tests a day, according to NHLS Board Chair Professor Eric Buch. “The NHLS has also secured supplies to maintain the 15 000 testing capacity over the next three months and further increase it if required,” he said in written answers to questions sent by Spotlight.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/09/covid-19-nhls-claims-it-can-do-15-000-tests-a-day/

COVID-19: How scientists found the fingerprint behind South Africa’s SARS-CoV-2 virus

A team of local scientists has successfully put together the first genetic fingerprint – or genome sequence – of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) found in South Africa. Together with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), the University of the Western Cape’s South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) cracked the code that could unlock the origins of the country’s outbreak, and help healthcare workers and government better track and trace the spread of the virus.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/10/covid-19-how-scientists-found-the-fingerprint-behind-south-africas-sars-cov-2-virus/

 

COVID-19: The science and policy calculous behind SA’s new mask recommendations

On Frida 10 April 2020, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize recommended that members of the public wear cloth face masks of at least three layers. In so doing, Mkhize gave much needed direction on an issue that created much uncertainty.

https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2020/04/11/covid-19-the-science-and-policy-calculous-behind-sas-new-mask-recommendations/