The South African Medical Association (SAMA) says the decision by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to allow for minibus taxis to operate at 70% capacity, could impact efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mbalula has said that taxi operators are allowed to be 70% full, provided that passengers wear masks.
SAMA Vice-Chair Mvuyisi Mzukwa says: “So if you just decide to take that route I don’t think it’s going to be helpful in terms of containing the virus. I think if we are to be very serious about this, we need to honestly be patient with the lockdown and not relax the restrictions that come with the lockdown. I think we need to be very careful not to make rally kind of speeches when we deal with the virus and I think the Department of Health should take a lead in these discussions.”
The Association says it is also incorrect to call on the industry to use N95 masks since those are for health workers and there’s already a dire shortage globally.
The Transport Minister has urged all taxi owners and operators to abide by the amended regulations and preserve the lives of their passengers.
Public transport will be permitted to ferry essential services workers from 5am to 10am and from 4pm to 8pm. Minibuses and midibuses will get an hour’s grace to get to pick-up and drop-off points before the official operating hours.
Authorities have urged the public to avoid close contact with people infected with the coronavirus as the country tries to slow the spread of the virus.