COVID-19 will present the biggest challenge to South Africa when it reaches informal settlements, the country's most densely populated areas. This is a warning from Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu.
She warned that tracing those who are either infected or had been in contact with the infected would be almost impossible if they do not come forward voluntarily.
“Human Settlements is a huge problem for us. With the help of CSIR [Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research] they used a heat map to identify the areas where we have serious congestion and we have identified 29 areas of priority in our informal settlements. These are areas where we need to go in and see if we can’t de-densify these areas and also make sure we provide the necessary sanitation to them," said Sisulu.
She is part of social cluster ministers who briefed the media on implementation plans for a 21-day lockdown kicking off across the country at midnight on Thursday. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday night that everyone must stay home in an effort to slow down the fast pace in which COVID-19 or coronavirus is spreading.
By Wednesday morning there were 709 confirmed infections in the country, as announced by Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, up from 554 on Tuesday.
Sisulu said they will work with different provinces to try and reduce the number of people in these areas.
“We will be in touch with various provinces where we have identified these densely populated areas. They are predominately found in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. We would like to appeal to the people that live in the densely populated areas to work with us to try and dedensify the area, She said.
Sisulu said her department would deliver water tankers to all rural areas to ensure water shortages do not add to the people's challenges.
“In the rural areas we will be provide water buckets, particularly for the elderly, which is provided by the private sector to make sure that they can wash their hands on a regular basis.
“We have already commissioned water tankers to go to areas that are in need of water, in order to provide for our people in the drought stricken areas. These areas are Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and the Free State. We have commissioned our water boards to be the frontline of our delivery,” said Sisulu.
Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu said all social grants would be paid on 30 and 31 March. Zulu urged all grant beneficiaries to avoid standing in long queues and to rather use their cards for electronic transactions.