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Covid-19: More than 7-million social grants paid out on day one

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu said payments of social grants are being staggered through the week to curb overcrowding and long queues. File photoSocial development minister Lindiwe Zulu said payments of social grants are being staggered through the week to curb overcrowding and long queues. File photo
Image: Trevor Samson
The social development department said it had processed about 4.2-million transactions to the tune of R3.7bn for social grants on Monday.

In addition, 3.1-million beneficiaries were paid through commercial banks.

Payments of social grants to the elderly and persons with disabilities are being staggered through the week to curb overcrowding and long queues.Glitches reported in some areas included long queues and failure to comply with social distancing and hygiene guidelines at some pay outlets.

There were also reported cases of depletion of cash at some post office outlets because of higher than normal numbers of people.

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu, accompanied by Gauteng acting social development MEC Panyaza Lesufi, visited some pay points on Monday to monitor compliance with the lockdown regulations and measures to contain the further spread of the virus. We could not have asked for a better start. We are pleased that in most areas we visited, social grant beneficiaries heeded our call to give older persons and persons with disabilities an opportunity to be the first to access their grants,” said Zulu.

The post office and the majority of retailers provided chairs, trolleys, hand sanitisers and queue walkers to ensure compliance with hygiene and social-distancing guidelines recommended by the health department.

Zulu said she was saddened to learn about the death of two elderly people on Monday.

“I express my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the deceased. Both of them were confirmed to be social grant beneficiaries at the time of their passing ,and I have instructed the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to process their payments without any delays,” she said.

Zulu has directed social workers to provide psycho-social support services to the families of the deceased.

Three more test positive for Covid-19 at Durban old age home

The Bill Buchanan Association for the Aged in Morningside has been in a state of panic after an 81-year-old woman who was at the facility tested positive for Covid-19.The Bill Buchanan Association for the Aged in Morningside has been in a state of panic after an 81-year-old woman who was at the facility tested positive for Covid-19.
Image: Yasantha Naidoo
Three more residents of a Durban old-age home have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to five.

Dudley Fortune of the Bill Buchanan Association for the Aged in Morningside told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that four of the five residents in isolation had the virus.

Among them is one of the women who tested positive a week ago.

“Staff members were sent home after being notified on Wednesday to self-isolate. They are being monitored by the department of health and are being tested,” Fortune said.

The home had been left reeling a week ago when an 81-year-old, who was recuperating at the facility for four days, tested positive for Covid-19. The woman is now on a ventilator in St Augustine’s Hospital.

The resident, who had shared the sick bay with the 81-year-old and also tested positive, is back in the home after being admitted to Addington Hospital.

Fortune said the infected residents were walking around and “doing well” within their isolation unit.

Wearing face masks and gloves? You’re probably doing it wrong

Experts say wearing masks and gloves may spread the coronavirus faster.Experts say wearing masks and gloves may spread the coronavirus faster.
Image: 123RF/Dmitryi Epov
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly advised wearing a mask and gloves in public if you suspect you’re infected or someone you are caring for is, many people are probably doing it wrong.

On Monday, executive director of WHO health emergencies programme, Dr Mike Ryan, said there was no specific evidence to suggest the wearing of masks by the mass population had any potential benefit.

“In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” Ryan said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

“There also is the issue that we have a massive global shortage. Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific.”

To date, SA has 1,326 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Here is how to correctly use masks and gloves during the pandemic.

When and how to use face masks
There are two types of face masks for Covid-19 prevention, namely the surgical mask and the N95 respirator.

Surgical marks are typically used to protect the wearer from sprays, splashes, and large-particle droplets, or to prevent the spread of potentially infectious respiratory secretions from the wearer to others.

The respirator can filter out 95% of very small particles. This includes viruses and bacteria.

If the mask doesn’t effectively seal your face, you won’t receive the appropriate protection.

According to WHO, masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

If you wear a mask, you must know how to use it and dispose of it correctly.

TIP
Inappropriate mask use includes touching it and taking it on and off.

For example, you are wearing your mask, but lower it when you are driving or to chat to someone. You then place it in the correct position again. This is incorrect and makes wearing the mask pointless. Keep the mask on, covering you nose and mouth at all times. When removing it, immediately wash your hands.

When and how to use gloves
Gloves, similarly to face masks, don’t heighten protection too much, and could even make you sick.

WHO explained that surgical gloves are recommended to be worn to reduce the risk of contamination of health-care workers’ hands with blood and other body fluids, and to reduce the risk of germ dissemination to the environment and of transmission.

Inappropriate glove use represents a waste of resources and does not contribute to a reduction of cross-transmission. It may also result in missed opportunities for hand hygiene.

WHO said the use of contaminated gloves caused by inappropriate storage, inappropriate moments and techniques for donning and removing, may also result in germ transmission.

TIP
Wearing gloves and then touching unclean surfaces or food packaging that came into contact with the virus due to coughing or sneezing and then touching your face is dangerous.

Make sure you keep the gloves on at all times. Don’t wear the gloves and remove them to do something, then put them on again.

You’ll be let off the hook for driving with an expired licence or vehicle disc during lockdown

The validity of driving licences, learners licences, driving permits and licence discs has been extended during the coronavirus lockdown period.The validity of driving licences, learners licences, driving permits and licence discs has been extended during the coronavirus lockdown period.
Image: http://www.123rf.com/HONGQI ZHANG
Motorists will be let off the hook for now for driving with expired driving or learner’s licences and car licence discs.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Monday issued a gazette extending the validity of the above, driving permits and registration of cars.

“During the lockdown, the validity period for the learner’s licence, driving licence, motor vehicle licence disc, temporary permit, professional driving permit and road worthy certificates shall be deemed to be valid and shall be extended for a further grace period of 30 days from the date of expiry of a lockdown period, unless determined otherwise by the minister,” the gazette read.

“The validity period for the renewal of a motor trade number licence during the lockdown shall be deemed to be valid and shall be extended for a further grace period of six months from the date of expiry of a lockdown period, unless determined otherwise by the minister,” it continued.

Mbalula said testing centres and stations would remain closed during the lockdown.

Addicts won’t cope without booze and cigarettes, say drug activists

Drug campaigners have urged government to lift the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales to help addicts and prevent crime.Drug campaigners have urged government to lift the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales to help addicts and prevent crime.
Image: 123RF/Stefano Carnevali
A drug pressure group has called for the lockdown ban on alcohol and cigarette sales to be reversed for the sake of addicts.

“Especially in the case of alcohol, many of those with substance-use disorders cannot simply stop using drugs,” the SA Drug Policy Initiative said a statement on Tuesday. “If they do, they risk developing a range of symptoms including psychosis, seizures and ultimately death.

“This leads to the second reason why the banning of alcohol and tobacco is a bad move: those who have problematic drug-use disorders are now having to break the law by acquiring them from illegal sources, and run the risk of being arrested.”The pressure group was founded in 2018 to campaign for the legal regulation of all drugs and what it describes as “humane, rational drug laws to reduce drug-related harms and the proliferation of organised crime and gangsterism”.

It said the principles of the Covid-19 lockdown were fundamentally sound and in line with global best practice. However, the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales, while well-intended, was a mistake

“This ad-hoc law fails to adequately consider the harms its enforcement will do to the many vulnerable individuals who suffer from substance-use disorders,” it said. “This is a medical condition that often affects people with mental illness or underlying psycho-social problems, but can be managed and treated by health-care specialists with drugs, psychiatric care and other supportive measures.

“As our health services are understaffed and unable to cope with substance-use disorders during ‘normal’ times, it is unlikely adequate treatment or support will be available to those who now find themselves without the drugs or help they need. This will lead to more pressure on an already burdened health-care sector.”The leaders of the drug policy initiative – general medical practitioner Keith Scott, drug counsellor Ashley Potts, criminologist Anine Kriegler and Prof JP van Niekerk – said most people with a drug problem relied on more than one substance.

“Someone who is addicted to, for example, heroin, but can get by with alcohol, cannabis or tobacco, will not be able to cope unless they break the law and buy those drugs on the black market,” the statement said.

“People who have the space to grow cannabis and those who have the financial means were able to buy and store adequate quantities of tobacco and alcohol products before the lockdown came into effect.

“However, the indigent sector of the population, many of whom have lost their jobs as a result of the lockdown, are expected to confine themselves in cramped, hot, poorly ventilated shacks and houses.

“And they have to do without drugs that are essential for some, and provide some relief for others who find it difficult to cope with the dire situation in which they find themselves.

“This demand invites criminal elements to meet this need by increasing the supply of contraband alcohol and tobacco.”

The statement said it appeared the potential drawbacks of the alcohol and cigarette ban were not considered or were given insufficient weight.

“Either way, the decision should be reversed as soon as possible as it discriminates against the poor, puts the health of the mentally ill and marginalised at risk, and gifts crime syndicates and gangs another source of income.”