COVID-19 government notices

18 January 2021

CORONAVIRUS AND VACCINE BOOKLET

Government has released a vaccine information booklet to aid the general public in understanding what the vaccine is, how it works and who will receive the vaccine first.
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26 August 2020

COVID-19 IN SOUTH AFRICA: A SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT

This study was prepared by the United Nations in South Africa under the auspices of the Resident Coordinator, Mrs Nardos Bekele-Thomas, and through the leadership of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report concludes that there is no silver bullet policy action – a combination of innovative policy actions is needed. In addition to implementing macroeconomic measures like reduced lending rates, tax deferrals, and debt rescheduling, ensuring no one is left behind calls for targeting the most vulnerable populations, like the marginalized women and unskilled workers, especially those in the informal sectors, through differentiated interventions, including deepening social assistance and re-skilling programmes for unskilled workers.
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26 August 2020

COVID-19 IMPACT: MICRO & MACROECONOMIC ANALYSIS IN SOUTH AFRICA

This impact study by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs was conducted under level 5 lockdown and is evolving. This study is part of the socio-economic impact of COVID 19 on households in South Africa by the United Nations in South Africa
under the technical leadership of the United Nations Development Programme. This report focuses on how COVID 19 will drive temporary and long term changes in poverty levels in South Africa and the classification of households that are at risk
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26 August 2020

GUIDANCE ON THE USE OF SARS CoV-2 ANTIBODY TESTS

The diagnosis of acute COVID-19 relies on detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from respiratory samples. Viral shedding from the upper respiratory tract is greatest between the presymptomatic period and within the first week of symptoms but drops off rapidly over time.

Serology tests to detect the presence of specific antibodies against infecting pathogens generally yield positive results from late in the course of acute illness (often >10 days after onset) or only during convalescence. The available evidence suggests that the sensitivity of antibody tests (for any type of antibody, IgM, IgA or IgG) is too low in the first week since symptom onset (period of greatest infectiousness) to have a primary role for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

Local validation studies from NHLS and National Pathology Group cohorts confirm low sensitivity in PCR-positive symptomatic patients in the first 2 weeks after onset of symptoms across all 4 assays tested. In keeping with international experience, sensitivity increases with disease severity.

The WHO has published draft COVID-19 Target Product Profiles for priority diagnostics to support response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO acknowledges that due to the urgency of the current situation, the proposed Target Product Profiles are focused on priority use case scenarios. This to address the greatest needs. This also should acknowledge that access to optimal tests may not be possible and in certain circumstances where RT-PCR testing cannot be undertaken, there may be a utility for point-of-care testing for either antibodies or antigens provided specimens are taken at the correct time after infection.

Thus, based on this context, the following recommendations on the use of both RDTs and laboratory-based antibody tests are made.

  • All the results of all antibody testing conducted must be recorded and reported to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), utilising the appropriate application (found at: https://csa.nhls.ac.za/).
  • RDTs must be administered by suitably qualified and trained health professionals only.
  • Laboratory-based serology testing should be conducted in ISO15189 accredited facilities only.

See the full guidelines here.

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20 August 2020

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OUTBREAK INVESTIGATION MANUAL

A new set of rules recently released is contained in the NDoH Outbreak Investigation Manual.

It is aimed at health facilities, but also useful for companies who may be involved in health service provision through nurses, etc. in-home, or in clinical settings. Section 22 of the Annexure E template must be accordingly updated.

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11 August 2020

National Treasury Instruction Note No 8 of 2020/21

National Treasury Instruction Note No 8 of 2020/21
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11 August 2020

National Treasury Instruction Note No 7 of 2020/21

National Treasury Instruction Note No 7 of 2020/21
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11 August 2020

National Treasury: Instruction Note No 5 of 2020/21

National Treasury: Instruction Note No 5 of 2020/21
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07 August 2020

WESTERN CAPE PROCUREMENT DISCLOSURE REPORT

In line with the requirements of section 217 of the South African Constitution, the Western Cape Government is committed to transparency in public procurement. In their continued commitment towards clean governance and transparency, the Provincial Treasury is pleased to publish the first edition of the Procurement Disclosure Report.

This report details all personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and expenditure in the Western Cape from 1 April 2020 until 30 June 2020. Going forward an automated report will be made available on the Provincial Treasury website on a monthly basis.

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31 July 2020

DIRECTION AMENDMENT ON DETERMINATION OF EXTENSION FOR VALIDITY PERIOD OF LEARNER’S LICENCES. DRIVING LICENCE CARDS.

All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire during the period that commenced from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 August 2020 are
deemed to be valid and their validity period is extended for a further grace period ending on 31 January 2021.

All motor vehicle licence discs, temporary permits and roadworthy certificates that expired during the period that commenced from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 May 2020 are deemed to be valid and their
validity period is extended for a further grace period ending on 31 August 2020.

Motor trade number licences that expired during the period that commenced from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 May 2020 are deemed to be valid and are extended for a further grace period ending
on 30 November 2020.
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24 July 2020

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS 23 JULY 2020

On 23 July 2020, President Ramaphoza addressed the nation. The two matters that he focused on was the re-opening of schools and the second was the management of the resources dedicated towards the fight against COVID-19.

While it remained of vital importance that the development and progress of learners not be impeded, Rhamaphoza declared that, after consultation with various stakeholders and expert bodies, Cabinet had decided that all public schools would close for four weeks (27 July to 24 August 2020). Two exceptions were:

  • Grade 12 learners and teachers who would only break for a week, returning to school on 3 August, and
  • Grade 7 learners who would break for two weeks, returning to school on 10 August.

The President said that as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the current academic year would be extended beyond the end of 2020.

A historic R500 billion social relief and economic support package was established to direct resources towards our coronavirus response and assist businesses, workers and households. The R500 billion package, Ramaphoza stated, has several parts and focused on giving the greatest assistance to those in greatest need.

  • Firstly, it redirects resources to fund the health response to coronavirus.
  • Secondly, it provides direct support to households and individuals for the relief of hunger and social distress.
  • Thirdly, the package provides assistance to companies in distress and seeks to protect jobs

To date, a total of R1.5 billion in support has been provided to all these businesses.

The President went on to condemn corruption and mismanagement of these public funds. He indicated that several preventative measures had been put in place. Furthermore, Rhamaphoza has signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit – the SIU – to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of any goods, works and services during or related to the national state of disaster in any state institution.
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14 July 2020

SARS NATIONAL CLASSIFICATION LIST OF COVID-19 MEDICAL SUPPLIES

SARS has published a National classification list of COVID-19 medical supplies
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13 July 2020

Presidents Speech 12 July 2020
  • The state of disaster is extended until 15 August. This will be a monthly occurrence, due to the wording in the empowering Act.
  • There is re-institution of a curfew from 21:00 – 04:00 which only allows movement for the provision and obtaining of urgent medical care. Practices and health facilities must, therefore, take note that “general” (non-urgent) care can only be provided from 04:00 – 21:00.
  • Employers may want to reconsider the implication of minibus taxi’s operating at 100% capacity for their staff. This consideration must be taken into account in the employer’s Annexure E plan.

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22 June 2020

PROTOCOLS FOR PERSONAL CARE SERVICES TO RESUME BUSINESS

Khumbudzo Ntshavhenl, MP, the Minister for Small Business Development, issued a Directions in order to provide protocols to mitigate and manage the COVID -19 outbreak amongst employees and customers in the personal care services industry. In consultation with Cabinet member responsible for health (Minister of Health), these services have been deemed safe to resume, under the specified conditions provided.

These Directions are issued in order to assist categories of services under the Personal Care Service industry that are deemed as safe to resume operations and specify conditions (protocols) under which such services may operate. The permitted services under this Directions may only commence with operations upon ensuring full compliance with the relevant protocols for their services. The categories of services that are deemed safe to resume operations are the following –

  1. Hairdressing;
  2. Barbering;
  3. Nail and toe treatment;
  4. Facial treatment and make – up;
  5. Body massage; and
  6. Tattooing and body piercing.

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19 June 2020

SARS: UPDATED PAYE BRS FOR EMPLOYER RECONCILIATION

In this version the descriptions of the source codes for the donations to the COVID19 Solidarity Fund has been amended, as well as the ETI fields to cater for additional ETI that may claimed as part of the COVID19 Tax Relief.

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18 June 2020

SARS: PUBLICATION OF EXPLANATORY SUMMARY OF THE DISASTER MANAGEMENT TAX RELIEF ADMINISTRATION BILL

SARS has issued a notice that the Minister of Finance intends to introduce the Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill, 2020, in the National Assembly on 24 June 2020.

The Bill provides for tax measures in order to assist with alleviating cash flow burdens on tax compliant micro and small to medium-sized businesses arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken under the Disaster Management Act, 2002; to provide for the employees’ tax treatment of donations to the Solidarity Fund; to provide for a change in the value-added tax category of vendors to effect monthly returns and refunds and to provide for matters connected therewith.
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18 June 2020

CHANGES TO LEVEL # REGULATIONS – THE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS

On the eve of 17 June 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation. The President stated that it had been just over 100 days since the first case of coronavirus was identified in South Africa and acknowledged the disruption the pandemic had brought to the lives and livelihoods of millions.

He shared the positive news of a breakthrough treatment of COVID-19 (the drug dexamethasone) which is also manufactured in South Africa and of which there is an ample supply. The drug reduced deaths among patients on ventilation by a third in an international study.

Ramaphosa highlighted how South Africa, like many other countries, has been affected by the global shortage of coronavirus test kits and other materials. He stated that SA had become more targeted with testing; prioritising patients in hospitals, health care workers, vulnerable people like the elderly and hotspot areas. He indicated that government was using every avenue available to source the supplies needed and to increase our testing capacity and improve the turnaround time within the labs.

Following further discussions with industry representatives on stringent prevention protocols, and after advice from scientists and consultation with Premiers, Cabinet decided to further ease restrictions on certain other economic activities.

These activities include:

  • Restaurants for ‘sit-down’ meals
  • Accredited and licensed accommodation, with the exception of home-sharing accommodation like Airbnb.
  • Conferences and meetings for business purposes and in line with restrictions on public gatherings.
  • Cinemas and theatres, to be aligned to limitations on the gathering of people.
  • Casinos.
  • Personal care services, including hairdressers and beauty services
  • Non-contact sports such as golf, tennis, cricket and others. Contact sports will be allowed only for training and modified activities with restricted use of facilities

In each instance, specific and stringent safety requirements have been agreed on and will need to be put in place before a business can re-open, and protocols will need to be strictly adhered to for businesses to remain open. Announcements will be made in due course to detail these measures and indicate the date
from which these activities will be permitted.

The President also addressed the wave of femicide that has been prevalent since the implementation of level 3 legislation. He condemned the actions of abuse and gender-based violence and reaffirmed government’s commitment to aiding those affected by it. Ramaphosa indicate that alcohol abuse played a role in the increase of abuse (as well as an increase in road accidents) and how we, as a society, need to draw the lessons from this lockdown and decide how we can protect our society
from the abuse of alcohol.
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12 June 2020

SARS RULE AMENDMENT NOTICE R670 UNDER SECTION 19A, 54AA, 105 and 120

Relief measures under the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 to assist in alleviating the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Customs and Excise sphere, including – DAR197

  • insertion of rule 19A.11 concerning deferral of certain excise duty payments;
  • amendment of rules 54FD.04 and 54FD.05 concerning deferral of first carbon tax submissions and payments; and
  • insertion of rules 105.01 to 105.04 concerning instalment payment

The effective date of the rule amendments is 12 June 2020, except for rule 19A.11, which commences retrospectively on 1 May 2020.

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01 June 2020

Transport Directive
  • The 30 May ministerial directive on rail commuter services:
    • makes no reference to 1 July as the target date for reopening lines referred to in Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s media statement, but
    • simply requires the Passenger Road Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to ‘continue with the maintenance, servicing and testing of its fleet and (to) further sanitise and disinfect its stations and hubs’.
  • The Gautrain’s airport service was scheduled to reopen on 1 June.
  • According to the Minister, his 31 March directive on air services has been amended to:
    • allow ‘limited domestic air travel for business purposes’ between four airports, subject to:
      • restrictions on the number of flights per day, and
      • ‘authorisation based on the reason for travel’
    • prescribe drop-off and pick-up points
    • determine who may enter a terminal building and the travel authorisations required, and to
    • make pre-flight COVID-19 symptom screening mandatory.
  • The 30 May ministerial directive on road-based public passenger transport confirms that inter-provincial travel is permitted under specific circumstances set out in the 28 May disaster management regulations.
  • The Minister’s statement confirms that ‘time restrictions’ applicable to all modes of public passenger transport by road have been ‘lifted’.
  • ‘Capacity restrictions’ imposed under lockdown levels five and four remain in place.

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27 May 2020

GUIDANCE ON VULNERABLE EMPLOYEES & WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATION IN RELATION TO COVID-19

With many businesses resuming operations at the end of the month, the Department of Health has put together an interim guide to provide guidance to evaluate and manage vulnerable employees in the context of the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993), the employer has an obligation to provide “a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees.” In addition, an employer has an obligation to ensure that in instances where hazards cannot be eliminated, they be appropriately controlled to prevent a risk of an adverse health outcome.

The major categories for vulnerable employees include:

  1. 60 years and older
  2. One or more of the underlying commonly encountered chronic medical conditions (of any age) particularly if not well controlled:
  • chronic lung disease: moderate to severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, active TB and post-tuberculous lung disease (PTLD)
  • diabetes (poorly controlled) or with late complications
  • moderate/severe hypertension (poorly controlled) or with target organ damage
  • serious heart conditions: heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, pulmonary hypertension; congenital heart disease
  • chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • chronic liver disease including cirrhosis

3.Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)

4. Immunocompromised as a result of cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications

5.>28 weeks pregnant (and especially with any of co-morbidities listed above)

If you have employees who fit into the broad categories above, download the guidance document here.

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20 May 2020

NICD CLINICAL MANAGEMENT OF SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED COVID-19 DISEASE – VERSION 4

The clinical spectrum of COVID-19 ranges from an asymptomatic or mild flu-like illness to severe pneumonia requiring critical care. These guidelines describe the clinical management of cases of COVID-19 disease, including clinical care in and outside of healthcare facilities, and are intended for use in both the public and private sectors.

The National Department of Health is committed to providing regular updates of guidelines, as knowledge regarding strategies to address COVID-19 develops both globally and in South Africa. This version of the guidelines provides updated and additional information on the diagnosis and management of patients with COVID-19, as well as specific guidance on the management of specific groups such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and people living with HIV.

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20 May 2020

SECOND DRAFT DISASTER MANAGEMENT TAX RELIEF AND RELIEF ADMINISTRATION BILL

20 May 2020 Update:

National Treasury and SARS publish the 2nd revised 2020 Draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill and revised Draft Notice on Expanding Access to Living Annuity Funds. These are published to provide early feedback on issues raised through public comment on the revised COVID-19 Draft Tax Bills published on 1 May 2020 that are time-critical for payroll and other aspects to be implemented in May 2020.

The 3rd revised 2020 Draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill and 2020 Draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill, as well as the Notice on Expanding Access to Living Annuity Funds,

will be published by the end of May

to take into account all public comments received on the revised COVID-19 Draft Tax Bills published on 1 May 2020. They provide the necessary legislative amendments required to implement the tax measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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15 May 2020

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 13 MAY 2020

President Ramaphosa addressed South Africa on Wednesday evening on South African’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In his speech, he acknowledged the tragedy of the lives lost to COVID-19. He also acknowledged the economic impact of the lockdown measures and how that has affected the livelihoods of many South Africans.

The president reiterated that the lockdown measures were absolutely necessary to curb transmission rate, prepare healthcare facilities and procure enough PPE t protect frontline healthcare workers.

Rampaphosa thanked the United States for their donation of 1,000 ventilators and the ELMA Group of Foundations the immediate contribution of R250 million to South Africa’s Solidarity Fund.

The President indicated that Alert Level 4 restrictions would be eased and that most of the country would be moved to Alert Level 3 by the end of May. Changes to alert level 4 regulations include expanding permitted business activities in the retail space and eCommerce and reduce restrictions on exercise.

It was clear that South Africa would need to get used to the new normal and continue to adjust behaviours to ensure that the spread of the virus continued at a manageable pace. He reaffirmed his commitment and the commitment of the government to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the life, the dignity and the interests of the South African people.

“Although there may have been differences and disagreements, there has also been kindness, empathy and compassion. There has been courage and solidarity. A very different South Africa and world awaits us. The greatest test will be our willingness to embrace change. Let us rise to meet this challenge.” – Ramaphosa

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14 May 2020

DIRECTIONS REGARDING e-COMMERCE SALES DURING ALERT LEVEL 4 OF THE COVID-19 NATIONAL STATE OF DISASTER

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition has issued Directions set out with regards to e-commerce sales during alert level 4. The purpose of these Directions is to provide direction on the goods which may be transacted through e-commerce platforms and the protocols which must be observed by retailer, couriers or delivery services and customers in respect of good transacted through e-commerce.

  • Subject to all applicable laws, all goods may be transacted through e-Commerce platforms, except for goods prohibited for sale in terms of regulation 26 and 27 of the Regulations.

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11 May 2020

From the President’s Desk

Since the beginning of May, when we began the gradual easing of the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown, many people have started returning to work. As part of the phased recovery of the economy, companies in certain specified industries have been able to resume part or all of their operations.

The national coronavirus alert level is now at 4, which means that extreme precautions remain in place to limit community transmission. Our goal is to steadily reduce the alert level by keeping the rate of infection down and getting our health system ready for the inevitable increase in cases. As the lockdown is gradually eased, life will slowly return. But it will not be life as we knew it before. Our success in overcoming the coronavirus will ultimately be determined by the changes we make in our behaviour.

Like we have done, many countries are implementing extensive stimulus packages to strengthen their respective health care sectors, support ailing industries and workers and provide relief to vulnerable households. Like us, they have had to heed calls for economic activity to resume. Like our citizens, their populations are restive and frustrated with the curtailment of personal freedoms.

As the restrictions on economic activity and daily life are eased, it is vital that all South Africans maintain that firm sense of personal responsibility. In all that we do, in every sphere of life, we must take care of our own health and the health of others. Whether as individuals, employers, employees, government, civil society, trade unions or businesses, we will all continue to have a role to play in fighting the pandemic.

The transition to the next phase of the coronavirus response, that of recovery, will be more difficult than the present one. The risk of infection outbreaks will increase. The demands on our clinics and hospitals and medical personnel will grow. That is why easing the lockdown restrictions must not result in careless behaviour by individuals or reckless practices by businesses keen to resume activity at the cost of human health.

The coronavirus crisis will pass. But for as long as it remains a threat to the lives of our people, we must remain vigilant, diligent and responsible. Now, more than ever, it is upon the conduct of each that depends the fate of all.

Cyril Ramaphosa
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08 May 2020

Amended Directions for the once-off movement of goods and persons

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has issued and gazetted a set of amendments of the directions to address, prevent and
combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa. These set of Directions are called the Directions on the once-off movement of persons and the transportation of goods for purposes of relocation.

The once-off movement will commence on 07 May 2020.

The directions will allow individuals and business to move premises within, and across provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries during the period of Alert level 4. Citizens who were not able to do so due to the lockdown will be allowed to move houses with goods. This includes new lease agreements which were entered into before or during the lockdown period; or in instances where the property transfer occurred before the lockdown period. These directions are limited to a change in place of residence, including the transport of goods to a new place of residence, within the Republic.

Anyone who wishes to take advantage of this period to move, with their goods within, or across provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries, must obtain a permit from the station commander of a police station or a person designated by him or her. All removals must be performed in compliance with the COVID-19 regulations and the relevant Directions issued by the Minister of Transport.
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30 April 2020

Occupational Health & Safety Directive for all non-HCP businesses

There are now Occupational Health & Safety Measures that all businesses, apart from health facilities and practices, must adhere to. This applies to those who have been supplying essential goods this far, as well as those that may partially re-open from level 4 and down (those regulations are still being awaited).

For health facilities and HCPs: As physical distancing can, for example, not be practised when attending to a patient, a separate set of rules are expected. However, it is anticipated that many of the rules in the attached will, in any event, be applicable.

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30 April 2020

National Treasury Emergency Procurement Response to the National State of Disaster

National Treasury has published the COVID-19 Disaster Management Central Emergency Procurement Strategy for PFMA Organs of State. This document is to provide instruction for a disaster management central emergency process for PPE. In light of the lockdown, emergencies may occur where normal procurement practices are impractical and, moreover, where there is high demand within a short time frame for good or services and special arrangements with service providers with proven capabilities can capacity to assist need to be made. Given the current global situation, it is clear that countries need to centralise their procurement for local and imported health products, not only to develop scales and prevent its regions from competing with each other for limited supplies, but also to scale up orders and arrange logistics.

The Acts are relevantly applicable to procurement are available on the National Treasury website.

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30 April 2020

COVID-19 PPE Price List

The following price list was issued on 28 April 2020 with regards to personal protective equipment. Surgical masks for healthcare workers, gowns, biohazard bags, body bags and gloves (examination or surgical, sterile) can only be procured by the National Health Department.
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30 April 2020

Updated Recommended Guidelines for Fabric Face Masks

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has released an updated guideline on fabric face masks.

  • In line with the Republic of South Africa’s Industrial Policy Action Plan10 (IPAP) and the Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather (CTFL) Master Plan’s policy objectives it is highly recommended that manufacturers source textiles made locally, by local manufacturers, when making fabric/cloth face masks.
  • All textile/fabric quality recommendations for making fabric face masks, found within the guidance document, are qualities found in textiles that are locally made in the Republic of South Africa.
  • It is imperative that fabric/cloth face mask manufacturers ensure that efforts to manufacturer masks are done within the broader context of supporting South Africa’s Clothing and Textile Industry, and our government’s efforts to ensure localisation of value-chains and boarder economic prosperity – in keeping with our country’s developmental objectives and Industrial Policy.
  • Using three layers, selecting a non-woven (or similar) fabric with strong filtering capability (barrier efficiency) as the middle layer (with the accompanying inner and outer layers providing comfort, structure, and some additional protection) is recommended.
  • The primary function of the middle layer is to trap or stop particles 5 microns and larger. It should have a barrier efficiency of at least 75%.
  • If a filter layer is not used, the combination of the two layers must provide a 5-micron particle barrier efficiency of at least 75%.
  • A user-guide MUST be supplied with a mask on how to wear and how to care for it.

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24 April 2020

National Treasury: Further tax measures to combat COVID-19

Government recognises that the far-reaching lockdown measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus are having a significant impact on our economy. The Minister of Finance announced the details of an initial set of measures on 29 March 2020 to assist tax compliant businesses with cash flow assistance and provide an incentive for businesses to retain their lower-income employees. In line with the President’s address to the nation on 21 April 2020, the Minister of Finance provides more detail on the second set of measures that aim to assist individuals and businesses through the pandemic.

The interventions include:

  • Skills development levy holiday
  • Fast-tracking of value-added tax (VAT) refunds
  • Three-month deferral for filing and first payment of carbon tax liabilities
  • A deferral for the payment of excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products
  • Postponing the implementation of some Budget 2020 measures
  • An increase in the expanded employment tax incentive amount
  • An increase in the proportion of tax to be deferred and in the gross income threshold for automatic tax deferrals
  • Case-by-case application to SARS for waiving of penalties

The following tax measures aim to assist individual taxpayers and to provide financial backing from the fiscus to donate to the Solidarity Fund:

  • Increasing the deduction available for donations to the Solidarity Fund
  • Adjusting pay-as-you-earn for donations made through the employer
  • Expanding access to living annuity funds

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24 April 2020

President’s Message: 23 April 2020

On 23 April 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa made a statement on SA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The president reiterated that because the coronavirus can spread so rapidly through a population, it can overwhelm even

the best-resourced health system within a matter of weeks. Very few health systems across the world – if any – are prepared for a sudden and exponential increase in people requiring treatment for a severe respiratory illness.

As a result, if the virus spreads too quickly, there are not enough hospital beds, intensive care units, ventilators, personal protection equipment or medicine for everyone who needs them. By delaying the spread of the virus, we have had time to prepare our health facilities and mobilise some of the essential medical supplies needed to meet the inevitable increase in infections.

The World Health Organization has commended South Africa for acting swiftly and for following scientific advice to delay the spread of the virus. Yet, while a nation-wide lockdown is probably the most effective means to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely. It is to this end that the president announced a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity starting on the 1st of May 2020.

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24 April 2020

Level 5 to 4, NOT level 5 to Zero

It is critically important that your business, your staff, your association, your members are clear on what the President said last night.

The LockDown is NOT being lifted.

It is being eased, but:

  1. only for CERTAIN sectors and subsectors and potentially unevenly per province or area
  2. only for CERTAIN activities and
  3. subject to STRINGENT controls

Overarching principles for resuming (partial) operations relate to considerations as to –

  1. whether an eased business could contribute to the transmission of the virus
  2. whether the business has PPE for its staff
  3. whether the business can screen staff for COVID regularly
  4. whether the business can implement social distancing
  5. whether it would place health sector capacity to deal with the pandemic, which is projected to only peak in September, under pressure

Then, sectors for easing are identified based on:

  1. their contribution to the economy (health, unfortunately, is not a big contributor),
  2. the impact on employment (e.g. mass retrenchments), and
  3. the impact on businesses (large scale closures).

As can be seen from the Presidential slide set, very few health sector businesses would re-open as an economic priority e.g. in level 4 or lower (save for those rendering essential services and goods, as defined in the Regulations, who could continue to do so).

One should bear in mind that the industrial classifications of sectors are quite wide, with health companies and practices often hidden within them. If sectors or subsectors operating in the health sector is convinced they’d be able to comply with these criteria, submission can be made to the various Ministries for limited re-opening, with the conditions and assurances required on the above principles, set out clearly.

We understand that many are requiring re-opening due to financial distress. This in itself is not a criterion, in particular as many financial relief benefits do exist. We urge health sector businesses and practices to make use of these mechanisms. Rather than run the risk of criminal sanction due to opening in contravention of the law, you can obtain assistance from Elsabe Klink and Associates or others on this aspect.

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23 April 2020

The RISK-BASED approach of re-opening the economy

A slide set on the re-opening of the economy has become available , this will no doubt have been amended by tonight when the President is scheduled to announce this. It is referred to as the risk-adjusted strategy for economic activity. We highlight the most important slides (attached) below.

It is important for all of us as in the health sector as appears to show:

  • Lack of dataon the extent of our businesses being operating fully, partially, remotely or by telehealth, or not at all. This will, therefore, impact the decisions made.
  • Not considering (?) the impact of the definitions of “essential” as it pertains to the health sector – only activities that are life-saving or those large-scale health impacts (“population or part thereof”), which limits the operation of part of the health sector from being able to function at all, or in full.
  • Some of the greater health sector falls under personal and social services , and/or under professional services (practices and pharmacies), and some fall under pharmaceuticals/chemicals, whilst others fall under wholesale, or manufacturing. This makes our sector unique, as opening manufacturing but not having a market for non-essential medicines will not help.
  • The unique health sector also as a business, but as key in relation to
    COVID-19 treatment (incl hospital admissions)

    , the possible need for beds and equipment also appear to not have been specifically considered from a business perspective (i.e. keeping hospitals “open” but not for anything but emergencies and COVID-cases. This makes it

    distinct from the rest of the economy

    , but the effects are severe in the non-essential services and non-essential health goods sectors.

Of importance in the slides are:

  • Slide 6: Criterion of “low transmission AND severe impact OR high value sector
  • Slide 8 lists the sectors per criterion: Health & Social work would be where most practices would be placed, and only in economic linkage impact is the score high, but the % operational are indicated as ‘UNKNOWN”. For pharmaceuticals the % operational is quite high, but impacts are only medium, with export impact indicated as low.It is vitally important to have a picture for your specific sector as to what is open, and to what extent (e.g. only certain goods are moved, (some) staff are working remotely or practicing telehealth, etc).
  • Slide 9 lists sectors per payrol impact, retrenchments,business closures and SME’s. For professional and pharmaceutical sectors, they deem the impact to be less severe.
  • Slide 10 lists the physical aspects of a business (or in our case, practices) and whether remote work would be possible.
  • Slide 12 lists in columns the impact on Professional Services and Pharmaceuticals, with Manufacturing having a higher score on the ability to provide PPE and the impact on the workforce.
  • Slide 15 lists further factors, namely transmission risk, how regulated and organised the sector is, how localised or low the movement of people is, and how enabling it is of other sectors or essential services.

It is strongly RECOMMENDED that all businesses and practices link into their professional and other associations, so as to get a better picture of the current levels of operation, the impact and also the possibilities for remote work, etc. to inform decision-makers on this matter.

The uncertainties as to what exactly is “essential” in our greater sector (not necessarily all activities or goods may be) must also be resolved, as well as the possibilities to re-organise work and/or work safely if a full or partially opened business.

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22 April 2020

Risk-adjusted strategy for economic activity

There is early evidence that the full national lockdown imposed since 26 March 2020 has successfully limited the spread of the coronavirus. However, there are serious risks associated with lifting lockdown restrictions too soon, or in an unsystematic and disorderly manner. Restrictions on economic activity need to be adapted to epidemiological trends, and may need to be relaxed and tightened in different periods. An alert system should be created with clearly defined levels of restriction that can be imposed by the National Command Council as necessary.

To determine which sectors should be allowed gradually to resume activity, three criteria should be used:

  1. Risk of transmission (including the ease of implementing mitigation measures)
  2. Expected impact on the sector of continued lockdown (including prior vulnerability)
  3. Value of the sector to the economy (e.g. contribution to GDP, multiplier effects, export earnings)

A decision about whether to institute a lower alert level should be made by the National Command Council based on evidence gathered during this week about the spread of the virus.

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22 April 2020

Presidential Speech 21 April 2020

Many would have listened to the Presidents speech on the economic and social measures that will be taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes an amount of R500 billion divided into various measures. The President indicated that a phased release of lockdown would be detailed on Thursday. Experts expect that due to the high number of cases, KZN, the Western Cape and Gauteng may face longer or more strict lockdown protocols than other parts of the country. A risk-adjusted approach will be taken and it is likely the government will look at the economic value and stress of certain sectors together with the increased risk of transmission that would be applicable within that sector.

“Even as we find ourselves at a moment of great peril, even as great sacrifices are demanded, even as we dare not allow our vigilance to waver, we look ahead to a better future. I have faith in the strength and resilience of ordinary South Africans, who have proven time and time again – throughout our history – that they can rise to the challenge.” President Cyril Ramaphosa

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16 April 2020

CEO Initiative

The CEO Initiative, which was established in 2016 as a collaboration between government and business to address some of the most pressing challenges to the country’s economic growth, is supporting the call of Business for SA (BSA) for all large companies to pay their SME creditors by Monday 20 April 2020. Sim Tshabalala, a member of the CEO Initiative SteerCo, and CEO of Standard Bank, says, “These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary commitment from CEOs and large corporates. The Government has asked South Africans to stay home under a 35-day lockdown. This is tough for every individual, and every business, but most especially difficult for small and medium enterprises.”

“They are under enormous strain and we are already seeing many businesses having to close their doors, which has a significant impact on their ability to sustain their employees. Even outside of the lockdown, many of these businesses often do not have the cash flow needed in order to maintain sustainability. We believe early payment is the right thing to do and will have a significant impact on their ability to survive and keep paying their employees.”

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16 April 2020

PMB Benefit Definition

The CMS PMB Benefit Definition document relating to COVID-19, including ICD10 coding and the very important instruction that schemes must fund Telehealth for PMBs (or as they describe it “at PMB level of care”, which the law in reg 8 says is “in full”)
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16 April 2020

Minutes of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee briefing on COVID-19

SUMMARY OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE BRIEFING 10 APRIL 2020:

  • Slides relating to the confirmed cases per province (geo mapped) have been made available. These refect data on 8/9 April and the pictures will not look substantially worse than portrayed.
  • It was stressed that any “current” case number tells you about the epidemic from two weeks ago.
  • The number of contact tracers South Africa is 2 600, who have identified 9 547 contacts, of whom 8 341 (87.4%) were found and are monitored.
  • There are 1308 Community screening and testing teams
  • Researchers anticipate that a surge in the pandemic will occur.
  • To respond to the requirement for additional bed capacity, field hospital sites have been identified for the provinces most affected
  • IT systems are in place to allocate HR, and retired professionals have been asked to volunteer
  • The Department plans to introduced rapid testing kits.
  • On PPE supply, each province has sufficient supply, however, stocks are “very low”. A “big problem” is that relies mainly on local suppliers , the majority of whom have “very limited capacity”.
  • The briefing also addresses the St Augustine’s matter, where it appeared that the HCPs carried the infection, as the patient was isolated. [NOTE: since the 10th, two further hospitals had outbreaks and two pharmacies have closed due to infections.]
  • The MoH said that they would “commandeer the use of private beds” and “determine the prices thereof – all in the spirit of cooperation.
  • The MoH is working with a private-sector pharmaceutical workstream.[NOTE: It is however incorrectly stated that companies can “compare prices” – this is not permissible under the Competition Act exemptions as published earlier this month]
  • The DoH may move stock from the private to the public sector.
  • There is a task team dedicated to procurement.
  • With current stocks, SA has the capacity for about 600 000 tests, which would cover us for the “next couple of weeks”.
  • Provinces to start creating “fever or flu clinics” to attend to persons exhibiting respiratory symptoms, isolate and treat.
  • The public should be wearing cloth masks, and keep surgical and N95 masks for HCPs.

During question time:

  • The issue of moonlighters in health facilities, who could transmit the virus, was raised and the MoH stated that staff will be tested and traced to prevent cross-contamination
  • If the curve is not flattened, the strategy is to put up additional beds and divert possible infected persons away from hospitals, so that one is ready for a peak and to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed
  • In terms of the regulation of the private sector, the Minister indicated that they have the authority to regulate them. Licences are done by the government and handled at the national level, but this will be delegated to the provinces.

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15 April 2020

Reserve Bank again cuts repo rate by 1 percentage point

The SA Reserve Bank has cut the repo rate by 100 basis points, or one percentage point. This brings SA’s repo rate to 4.25%. The cut will be effective from April 15. This comes after the bank brought the scheduled May meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee forward to respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on SA’s economy. The bank’s decision will also lower the prime lending rate to 7.75%.
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14 April 2020

SA’s COVID-19 epidemic: Trends & Next steps

The current stages of SA’s COVID-19 response are as follows:
Stage 1: Preparation
Stage 2: Primary prevention
Stage 3: Lockdown
Stage 4: Surveillance & active case-finding

Community transmission levels will guide the next steps & the lockdown. By 18 April the government will know if community transmission interpretation is accurate. It is expected for large daily variations & some increases in positive tests due to active case-finding (passive vs active cases). An abrupt return may increase spread and so there will need to be a plan for the systematic easing of the lockdown over several days.

Next stages of South Africa’s response are as follows:
Stage 5: Hotspots
Stage 6: Medical Care (for the peak)
Stage 7: Bereavement & the Aftermath
Stage 8: Ongoing Vigilance
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14 April 2020

Implementation of the Preparedness and Upscaling Plan

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) is a public health laboratory service with laboratories across South Africa. The NHLS is the largest public health laboratory service with more than 233 laboratories across the nine provinces. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the NHLS, provides reference microbiology, virology, epidemiology, surveillance and public health research and training in communicable diseases. Initially, the testing for COVID 19 was done by the NICD. When the volume of reference testing started growing and the first positive case was detected, the NICD requested the NHLS to start testing in the NHLS laboratories as from the 6th March. The NHLS had capacitated itself through the procurement of state of the art equipment in Virology laboratories in the country.

The NHLS has done a review of the capacity it will have to implement the rollout of the COVID-19 testing programme. Both currently and in the future, the NHLS will have sufficient capacity to successfully implement the programme. The NHLS is successfully managing the current demand, and in fact has more capacity than the demand. There is no backlog in testing, and the NHLS has requested that the provinces scale up its screening and referrals for testing. The NHLS management team had to work under extremely difficult conditions, in the face of global shortages and competition for equipment, to rapidly provide a service to manage the campaign.

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14 April 2020

COVID-19 Disease: Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines

The published guideline provides guidance regarding infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities with specific reference to COVID-19. It should be read in conjunction with the National Infection Prevention and Control Strategic Framework and the Practical Manual for the Implementation thereof. These guidelines are likely to change as knowledge regarding strategies to address COVID-19 develop globally and in South Africa.

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03 April 2020

Media statement on the Publication of COVID-19 Draft Tax Bills

National Treasury made a media statement on the Publication of COVID-19 Draft Tax Bills for public comment
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01 April 2020

Cancellation of certificates not designated as essential services

During the course of its review of the Essential Service list of applications, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has established that certain companies not designated as Essential Services have either fraudulently or negligently applied on the Bizportal website (www.bizportal.gov.za).

In a number of cases, companies have applied and received Essential Service certificates without compliance with the regulated conditions. Businesses in the CIPC database that are not eligible to continue operations during the lockdown have had their certificates cancelled and will be handed over to the South African Police Services for further investigation and potential prosecution. Any business which is not authorised to continue operating during the lockdown in terms of the applicable regulations and directions should cease operations with immediate effect.

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01 April 2020

SARS: Clarity regarding the use of ethyl alcohol in the manufacture of hand sanitisers

SARS has published a streamlined temporary registration process for traders to register as rebate users in the manufacturing of disinfectants for the duration of the national state of disaster.

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01 April 2020

Process for traders to register as rebate users in the manufacturing of disinfectants

SARS has published a streamlined temporary registration process for traders to register as rebate users in the manufacturing of disinfectants for the duration of the national state of disaster.

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01 April 2020

Tax measures to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Minister of Finance has announced the following exceptional tax measures as part of the fiscal package outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020 in his speech on the Escalation of Measures to Combat COVID-19. The tax adjustments are made in light of the National State of
Disaster and due to the significant and potentially lasting negative impacts on the economy from the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. There is a critical need for government interventions to assist with job retention and assist businesses that may be experiencing significant distress.

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31 March 2020

SOP for Business to request an update of critical supplies under COVID-19

This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) acts as a guideline for Business in adding products to the established rebate item 412.11 list, as published by ITAC on their website. The requests need to be duly motivated to BUSA who will forward the request to the HS Team. The motivation is directed to BUSA, PMO office, Jonathan.q.james@pwc.com and Nadeem.mohamed@kpmg.co.za.

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31 March 2020

Extention of driver and vehicle licence validity

If you or your employees find that either their motor vehicle licence disk or their driving licence card are expiring during the lockdown period, the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has gazetted an extension on the validity on learner’s licences, driving licence cards, licence discs, professional driving permits and the registration of a motor vehicle for the during of the lockdown and a subsequent 30 day period thereafter.

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30 March 2020

Further clarification – Transnet: Application of the COVID-19 Lockdown with proactive measures to ensure throughput of essential containers

Further clarification

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has established that all shipping lines are carrying essential goods. Based on this information TPT will provide a practical application of planning on a first planned, first-served basis, based on the firm five day ETA (to avoid confusion this is not on a first-come-first-served basis). Further applications are detailed here.
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30 March 2020

Transnet: Application of the COVID-19 Lockdown with proactive measures to ensure throughput of essential services

Transnet reaffirmed its commitment to rendering essential services for the effective functioning of the South African economy. Transnet has, however, scaled-down all its transportation services and operations for non-essential cargo during the lockdown period. Measures will be implemented by the respective operating divisions to ensure that critical business continuity service are supported. They request that customers who provide essential goods and service inform their respective Transnet account executive to ensure the necessary requirements are met and to plan accordingly.

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30 March 2020

Gauteng Health Department embarks on a massive recruitment drive to fight against COVID-19

The Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) has embarked on a massive recruitment drive to ensure that there is enough capacity in the province to deal with the anticipated rise in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. People in the following fields; medical officers, nursing, operational managers, pharmacy, physiotherapy, radiography, speech and audiology therapy are called upon to offer their skills to help contain and mitigate against the Coronavirus. All available health professionals are called upon to take up this opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. Applications can be made online on www.healthjobs.co.za where all positions are advertised.

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30 March 2020

Clinical management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 disease

The National Department of Health has release version two of the guidelines for managing suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. The updated version now includes:

  • New de-isolation criteria for confirmed cases (section 4.5)
  • Statement on therapeutics for hospitalized cases (section 4.3)
  • Statement on the use of ACE-inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (section 4.3).

The guideline summary as follows:

Testing

  • Apply the latest case definition from the NICD to determine testing eligibility. http://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/
  • Combined nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs should be sent in all suspected cases. Lower respiratory tract samples (e.g. sputum) can also be sent if present (do not perform sputum induction however).
  • Ensure that the specimen is labelled and packaged correctly, and stays between 2-8°C during specimen storage and transport.

Suspected COVID-19 cases

  • Any suspected case should be identified as soon as possible (ideally prior to entering the facility). Such cases should immediately be given a surgical mask, and be isolated. Good hand hygiene and cough etiquette should be taught, and appropriate samples obtained.
  • A broad differential diagnosis should be entertained for suspected cases, and appropriate testing for alternative diagnoses should be undertaken.
  • Suspected COVID-19 cases who are medically well, or who are assessed as having only mild disease, may be managed at home while awaiting test results.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

  • Patients with mild disease may be considered for management at home, provided they are able to safely self-isolate and are not at risk of developing severe disease (see criteria in table 2).
  • Supportive oxygen therapy is the cornerstone of management for patients with severe disease – target oxygen saturations of ≥90% for most patients, using nasal prong oxygen, a simple face mask, or a face mask with a reservoir bag.
  • For intubated patients with ARDS, use lung-protective ventilation strategies.
  • There is currently no good evidence for any specific therapy for COVID-19. Any investigational drugs or therapeutics should be reserved for hospitalized patients. It should ideally be administered as part of a trial, but at a minimum, it should be administered under the Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered Interventions (MEURI) framework.
  • Patients may be de-isolated without the need for repeat PCR tests. Those with mild disease may be de-isolated 14 days after symptom onset, while those with severe disease may be de-isolated 14 days after achieving clinical stability (e.g. once supplemental oxygen is discontinued).
  • There is currently no good evidence to suggest that patients on ACE-inhibitors, angiotensinreceptor blockers need to discontinue these agents.

Healthcare worker personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • For the majority of direct COVID-19 patient interactions, appropriate healthcare worker person protective equipment consists of gloves, a gown or apron, and a surgical mask.
  • When performing aerosol-generating procedures (e.g. taking nasopharyngeal swabs, performing CPR, or intubating a patient), an N95 respirator should be used in place of a surgical mask, and eye protection (shield or goggles) should be added to the above.

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30 March 2020

Contact information for incentives

There are several incentives during the COVID-19 period. It is essential that you direct your queries to the correct person in order to expedite a response.
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30 March 2020

National Infection Prevention and Control Strategic Framework

This strategic framework gives guidance to public and private health facilities and health workers on compliance with standards relating to IPC practices
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30 March 2020

National Infection Prevention and Control Practical Manual for implementation

This practical implementation manual has been developed in parallel the framework
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27 March 2020

The solidarity fund uniting South Africa against COVID-19

On Monday night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the creation of the Solidarity Fund. The Solidarity Fund is designed to unite the nation and to accelerate the country’s response to COVID-19. The focus of the fund is to alleviate the suffering and distress caused by the virus on our country and will mobilise the support of business and civil society in support of government’s efforts in response to COVID-19.

Details on how to donate will be available on the Fund’s website www.solidarityfund.co.za

For more information email info@solidarityfund.co.za

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27 March 2020

NDoH: Rational medicine use during COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to this pandemic, there is now an increased global demand for pharmaceuticals and decreased active pharmaceutical ingredient production. It is anticipated that supply constraints may result. The National Department of Health (NDoH) is, therefore, making an urgent plea to all healthcare workers to take measures to promote rational medicine use.
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27 March 2020

NDoH request to use chloroquine rationally

The National Department of Health issues a statement that due to the fact that chloroquine has shown potential clinical benefits, there has been a substantial increase in the purchase or chloroquine tablets for storage ‘in-case’ it is needed. This restricts access to the drug to those who have a genuine medical need for the drug. To this end there are now new guidelines to adhere to when prescribing, selling or using chloroquine as a treatment in relation to COVID-19.
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27 March 2020

COVID-19 Temporary employee/employer relief scheme

In view of the declaration of the National Disaster, the Minister of Employment and Labour issued a Directive called COVID-19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme. During this period of lockdown, companies will have to shut down and employees laid off temporarily. This means that employees are compelled to take leave, which is not out of choice. They, therefore, anticipate that employees may lose income. Employers are, however, encouraged to continue to pay employees, but where this is not economically possible; they have created a special benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Fund as per the Directive Covid -19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme.
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27 March 2020

Online BizPortal to register businesses that provide essential goods and services during the lockdown period

Continuing on what the minister stated in an earlier media release and the many challenges that were experienced by companies trying to make use of the portal, the dti released a media statement on the afternoon of 26 March stating that the site was fully functional. They ask that companies be patient through the registration process, as there are large volumes being experienced.

The service will continue to run beyond the lockdown hour and it is not a requirement that companies complete registration before the lockdown begins. Possession of a CIPC certificate does not constitute permission to operate during the lockdown. Companies may issue letters to their workers independent of the registration process, which must be done ahead of the lockdown hour.
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26 March 2020

Minister Patel announces essential service application portal

As per the above, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel has announced that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) in order for them to trade during the period of the lockdown in terms of the regulations published today by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Regulation Gazette No. 11062

Such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at www.bizportal.gov.za and obtain a certificate from the Commission that allows them to continue trading. The Bizportal website will contain a menu icon listed as “Essential Service Businesses” through which an application can be made to the CIPC.
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25 March 2020

NRCS urges all South African to be vigilant when purchasing masks and chemical disinfectants

It has come to the attention of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) that consumers are purchasing chemical disinfectants and particle filtering half masks in large quantities as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 epidemic. These products are subject to safety regulations administered by the NRCS to ensure that they do not present unnecessary risk to consumers. The regulations set out a hierarchy that must be taken into account when the safety of products is being assessed.

In light of this, the NRCS would like to urge consumers to only purchase chemical disinfectants and particle filtering half masks that have been approved by the NRCS and to use them in accordance with their instructions for use that either appear on the product itself or in a leaflet inserted inside the packages.
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25 March 2020

Media briefing by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel

Minister of the dti, Ebrahim Patel, address the media on 24 March 2020 following the President address the night prior. He reiterated that saving lives must be the priority and that South Africa needs to draw on all our resources in the economy and within each of the major economic players to come through this with as little damage.

Across the world, more countries are now doing lockdowns and the dti wants to ensure that it is managed in strong partnership with our people, with large and small businesses, with workers and with consumers. He committed to providing more information over the next few days as they finalise programmes and interventions.

Mr Patel indicated that a package of more than R3 billion for industrial funding to address the situation of vulnerable firms and to fast-track financing for companies critical to our efforts to fight the virus and its economic
impact.

They have made two special interventions in this regard

  • R500 million has been allocated for trade finance to import essential medical products;
  • R700 million has been allocated for working capital and equipment and machinery

Mr Patel committed to publishing further guidelines on essential service ahead of the lockdown. This will include the essential personnel required for the continued functioning of the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies who will be exempt from stay-at-home measures.

The Minister overviewed the Solidarity Response Fund which is designed to unite the nation and to accelerate the country’s response to COVID-19. The Focus of the fund is to alleviate the suffering and distress caused by the virus to the country and will mobilise the support of business and civil society in support of government’s efforts in response to COVID-19.

The fund will primarily fund four key initiatives:

  • Prevent: preventative and supporting measures to “flatten the curve” by lowering infection rates
  • Detect: detect and understand the magnitude of the infection problem
  • Care: assist with the management of those people in hospital or medical care
  • Support: support those people whose lives are disrupted by COVID-19.

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24 March 2020

SARS Letter to Business and Trade Associations – Impact of coronavirus on trade

SARS has communicated to the Customs and Excise stakeholders on the impact of COVID-19 on the services and activities of the different ports of entries. Stakeholder Management will communicate how customs functionalities are affected should there be additional changes.
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