If Eskom is able to give the nation daily updates about load shedding, surely we can and should be giving updates about the coronavirus status, ACDP MP Steve Swart said today.
“We don’t need fear or panic, but we must be properly prepared,” he said, speaking in the National Assembly in the debate on SA’s readiness to deal with the coronavirus risk,” said Swart.
His call followed an announcement today by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize that South Africa has reported its first case of coronavirus — a 38-year-old Durban man who returned to SA on Sunday from a trip to Italy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa also said today that the first case would affect the economy but he said the country is prepared to deal with the virus and there was no cause for panic. He said South Africans must be alert and continue to practice basic hygiene such as frequently washing hands
In his speech today Swart commended all members of the health sector “who are doing their very best under very difficult circumstances”. He said the ACDP encouraged the government to be more proactive in its public awareness campaign about symptoms, where to get help, and preventative measures people can all take.
“We also need to be mindful that some South Africans may be more susceptible to respiratory diseases, given the high levels of tubercolosis (TB) in our nation. Bear in mind, that many of our people commute using overcrowded trains or taxis, for example,” he said.
He urged churches and other faith-based organisations, to communicate awareness of this disease.
“And we need to be praying: many of us are believers, but we need prayer and we need action, encouraging a sense of calm in the situation. We also want to warn against any fake news that is being spread around about the virus, creating unnecessary fear and panic,” he said.
“The ACDP will come alongside government to do whatever is necessary, and also exercise our oversight responsibilities. The ACDP urges all South Africans to take collective responsibility, where we each do what we can to ensure that we stay safe and contain any potential threat as quickly and efficiently as we can.
“Psalm 91 says that as we trust in the Lord, no pestilence will come near our habitation.
“The ACDP wishes the minister everything of the very best as we deal with this threat, but let’s be open, let’s be frank, let’s be accountable and let us not hide information that citizens need to know about, ” said Swart.