Gauteng Premier David Makhura has indicated that all metros and districts in the province will move to level 3 when the national lockdown is eased for most parts of the country at the end of the month.
Makhura on Tuesday addressed the first virtual sitting of the provincial legislature where he provided an update on the provincial government’s strategy to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The premier said all the districts and metros would be moved to level 3 from next month.
“Gauteng cannot go to level 3 in a disjointed way. We cannot have one metro on level 4, another on level 3, and (yet) another on level 2.
“Even the districts are highly integrated. We are going to level 3 together,” Makhura said.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa has pointed out that some parts of the country which continue to be hot spots of infections would remain on level 4.
Despite quickly becoming the country’s Covid-19 epicentre soon after it confirmed the first case on March 7, Gauteng has since seen a gradual decrease in infection rates while other provinces, including the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape, continue to battle a surge in confirmed infections.
By on Tuesday afternoon, of the 16433 confirmed Covid-19 cases, Gauteng had 2343, behind the Western Cape with 10035 cases.
Makhura credited the lockdown for the slump in infections.
“Whatever the politics anywhere else, the lockdown has worked for us in Gauteng. I keep on saying that and we have evidence because, after the lockdown, cases per day went down,” he said.
While the national government has been diplomatic in responding to the DA and other political parties campaigning for an immediate end to the lockdown, Makhura described them as “irresponsible”.
“It is irresponsible. We have seen it in other parts of the world. We see Covid-19 resurging and we see new infections in Asia and parts of Europe, and those areas where people are irresponsible and just want us to reopen the economy. They are playing with people’s lives. We can’t do that,” he said.
Makhura pointed out that the suburban areas in the province were registering most of the recoveries, while townships had more new confirmed cases.
“The rate of infection is still low and the numbers are still low. But we know that Covid-19 spreads through cluster infections, so if you allow someone who has tested positive to remain in the area where they are and their contacts are not traced effectively and taken out of that area, you are running a risk of more infections,” the premier warned.
He said their focus would now shift towards townships and informal settlements in testing individuals and tracing the virus. He added that the battle against cluster outbreaks would be waged in the retail sector and at taxi ranks by ensuring proper compliance.
DA provincial spokesperson on social development Refiloe Ntsekhe, however, criticised the handling of the distribution of food parcels to vulnerable communities by the government during the lockdown, saying many people were left out.
“There are many people who applied in March and April and have still not received food. While I am worried about Covid-19, my biggest fear is that many residents will die of hunger,” he said.
Makhura said that more than 600000 people have been assisted with food parcels in Gauteng since the lockdown.
“Yes, there have been big challenges and the demand has been huge. We think we have done our best. We want to continue to improve,” he said.