David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Premier David Makhura has called on all Gauteng residents to stay put and not travel to their rural homes, saying that although the province was the worst affected, it had the best infrastructure to deal with the virus.

The province is the economic hub of the country and the most densely populated. It is the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, accounting for much of the coronavirus infections in the country thus far. By Thursday, infections nationally had risen to 709 cases, with 319 of those in Gauteng.

A significant number of Gauteng residents are migrant workers who have their roots in the various provinces of SA.  

The lockdown will take effect at midnight on Thursday and will be in place for 21 days, but in the days leading up to it, some residents in Gauteng have planned leaving before it takes effect.

On Wednesday, Makhura addressed a media briefing at which the province announced more wide ranging interventions to cushion against, among others, the social effect of the lockdown and the virus.

Dealing with Gauteng residents wanting to flee to the rural provinces before the lockdown takes effect, Makhura said it was a rational response to stay in the province, as it has better infrastructure.

He said if someone falls ill in Gauteng, the province will be able to ensure that the patient gets the best available treatment.

“The lockdown will be undermined by people who wants to be out of here before it takes effect. The nationwide lockdown means that wherever you go, you can't come back. We are worried about the people of Gauteng who goes somewhere else who might be infected and who might spread the infections,” Makhura said.  

He said the biggest areas of risk remained the public transport system and the province's high-density human settlements where social distancing is difficult. Those include informal settlements with limited access to health services, inadequate supply of water and high incidence of poverty and hunger.

The Gauteng provincial government will focus on providing food, sanitisers and bars of soap to cushion the poor and food-insecure households who are in the database of the departments of social development, health and education.

The province's priority will be children, the elderly, homeless people and those who are food insecure.

Among the new measures announced on Wednesday was that the province had arranged with boarding schools in different areas in the province to accommodate willing homeless people during this time.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who is also part of the province's task team dealing with the outbreak, said the province would be opening 24 more centres where abused women could go during the lockdown period.

Lesufi also announced that the provincial government was in the process of negotiating with labour and other stakeholders to cancel the June school holidays in a bid to catch up on the disrupted academic year.

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