South Africans face a daunting time ahead, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a nation-wide lockdown which will come into effect as of March 26, at midnight.
As South Africans face 21-days of self-isolation, the Newcastle Municipality is gearing up for the lockdown.
Newcastle Mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba explains that as Newcastle has not been spared in the challenge against COVID-19, the Newcastle Municipality wants to play a critical role in ensuring the infections remain at a minimum.
In a media briefing on March 24, Dr Mahlaba said the municipality was informed of the patients who tested positive for COVID-19.
“We have been constantly in contact with the Department of Health. We must applaud their swift action in making sure that individuals who tested positive are attended to.”
He says the Department of Health’s swift response gives the municipality hope. However, he encourages people to remain calm and avoid panicking during this difficult time.
“We also discourage bulk buying, as this creates panic and it is unfair, as not everyone can afford to bulk buy,” he says, reminding people that grocery stores will remain operational during the lockdown.
Regarding the lockdown, Dr Mahlaba says this is to the best interest of the community. He emphasises that by avoiding social distance and adhering to the lockdown, we can ensure COVID-19 does not spread.
“During this period of lockdown, service delivery will not be disrupted,” he ensures.
This includes emergency personnel, traffic officials, teams from water, teams from electrical and waste collection will continue to provide services to the community. However, the municipality building will be shut down during the lockdown period.
Despite the building being shut down, Dr Mahlaba says officials will still be available to the community if they are needed. In regards to the payment of accounts, Dr Mahlaba encourages residents to make use of EFTs.
For businesses who refuse to follow proper hygiene practices, Dr Mahlaba says while the municipality does not have the powers to enforce cleanliness within stores, he urges businesses to be responsible citizens.
“There were shop owners who did not want to get sanitisers, but after we spoke to them, they got sanitisers.”
He also feels ignorance plays a role and urges businesses to practice good hygiene practices to safeguard their staff and clientele.
With the municipality welcoming the president’s announcement, Newcastillians are yet again reminded to avoid panicking.