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Exclusive: FWM interviews senior South African official on virus risk analysis

In South Africa, the South African Police Service (SAPS) asked their districts' senior detectives to do a risk analysis: can they set up quarantines in densely populated black townships? In an exclusive interview, FWM spoke to an insider in the SAPS.

Published: March 16, 2020, 9:29 am

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    The source, who wanted to remain anonymous, said in his district the risk analysis showed that quarantine for a Covid-19 outbreak would be a huge challenge.

    “We do not have the manpower,” he explained. Even if they could somehow keep all residents inside their homes — an impossible task, according to him — they would then kill more people with an imposed quarantine than the virus itself.

    “They can’t get food, they don’t have access to water and toilets. If Kung Flu gets into the townships, they’re all going to get it. The police will not be able to do anything to stop it,” he said.

    Townships include large, sprawling informal settlements nearby in which communities are faced with several social problems. These shacks are built illegally and construction is informal and unregulated by the government. This results in a lack of access to basic services such as sewerage, electricity, roads and clean water, which adversely affects residents’ quality of life.

    Because electricity, water and sewerage are managed by different government departments, it has also resulted in inefficiencies in the absence of substantial co-ordination at all stages of the project planning, budgeting, and implementation cycle.

    Due to the welcoming immigration policy of the ANC regime, the population of townships typically grow faster than the infrastructure was planned for, causing overloads which result in blockages, surges, and overflows. There are often a limited number of public toilets,  which quickly become health hazards and poor access for maintenance activities which is caused by the lack of space between the illegally constructed shacks.

    The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says its members will continue to operate despite a call by President Cyril Ramaphosa discouraging “non-essential” travel by air, taxis and buses to fight the spread of Covid-19, officially named SARS-CoV-2.

    Addressing the country on Sunday night, Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster as the country’s number of infected patients increased to 61. Of these cases, the country’s first local transmission was also registered. All other cases involved people who had travelled to South Africa from overseas.

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