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Allow employees to work from home-President Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says employers must allow their workers to work from home wherever possible in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections.

As the country is grappling with the COVID-19 third wave driven by the Delta variant, on Sunday evening, the President announced that the country would move to Alert Level 4 with effect from Monday, June 28, 2021. 

“All employers must allow their staff to work from home wherever possible, and should postpone all non-essential travel and workplace gatherings.

“Government will also be putting in place measures to reduce physical attendance of its employees at workplaces while limiting the disruption of government activities and services.

“As we implement these restrictions, we are continuing to work to strengthen the capacity of our health system,” he said.

In Gauteng, he said the loss of significant capacity due to the ongoing closure of the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital is adding strain to other hospitals, adding, “We are doing everything we can to provide additional bed capacity and speed up the re-opening of Charlotte Maxeke hospital.”

Presently, Gauteng has made available 830 additional beds by postponing elective surgery and another 400 beds constructed with alternative building technology that are now being activated.

Government have been engaging with the producers of medical oxygen to increase their production to accommodate the anticipated increase in cases. The Gauteng Department of Health is recruiting additional human resources to support increased workload.

According to the President, the Solidarity Fund has provided R16 million to support the recruitment and placement of additional nurses in Gauteng hospitals to complement the military health team that has been deployed.

He said to ensure there is sufficient hospital bed space, government have to reprioritise service provision to ensure there is capacity to treat those with severe cases of COVID-19.

National vaccination programme

President Ramaphosa said the national vaccination programme has picked up significant momentum with key milestones being achieved.

 “As of midnight yesterday, nearly 2.7 million people in South Africa had received a vaccine dose. In the last week, the daily vaccination rate surpassed 100,000. In the last three days, we have received an additional 1.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine through the COVAX facility.

“With these additional supplies, we will be able to rapidly increase the rate of vaccination this week and in the weeks that follow. In line with our national rollout plan, over 950,000 health care workers have now been vaccinated across the country and the registration and vaccination of this cohort continues,” he said, adding that to date, 3.8 million people have been registered on the electronic vaccination database.

The national vaccination programme will continue along three defined streams. The first stream is the general population according to age groups, where the next cohort of 50 to 59 year olds can begin registration on July 1, 2021 and vaccination of this group will begin on July 15.

The second stream has already commenced with people working in the basic education sector, with 184,000 vaccinations recorded to date. The third stream is focusing on police and other security personnel. Government will start to vaccinate this group on July 5, 2021.

However, the fourth stream is through workplace programmes in key economic sectors such as mining, manufacturing and the taxi industry.