Tag: outbreak

Covid-19: SA in shutdown

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a number of strict measures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in South Africa.

The highlights of his address are as follows:

  • A National State of Disaster has been declared
  • A travel ban from foreign nationals from high-risk countries will be implemented from Wednesday 18 March
  • SA citizens are advised to refrain from travel to or through high-risk countries. These are currently listed as Iran, China, South Korea, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK and the USA. This is updated regularly
  • SA citizens returning from high-risk countries will undergo additional testing at ports of entry, and must self-isolate for 14 days
  • All foreign nationals who entered South Africa from high-risk areas must be tested. This applies to those who travelled from mid-February onwards
  • 35 land ports and two seaports will be closed
  • Non-essential travel is prohibited for all spheres of government
  • Gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited. This includes concerts, sport events and celebrations
  • Schools will be closed from 18 March until after the Easter weekend. Creches and universities are expected to follow suit
  • Visits to all correctional facilities have been suspended for the next 30 days
  • All businesses must take measures to intensify hygiene control, and where possible workers are to be asked to work remotely
  • All shopping centres must take measures to intensify hygiene control
  • The capacity of health centres is being increased nationally
  • A national command council has been established, meeting three times a week, chaired by the President
  • Cabinet is working with the private sector to finalise a package of varying fiscal measures to prevent economic collapse

All citizens of South Africa are called upon to do the following:

  • Wash hands with soap or similar for 20 seconds. Do this regularly, especially after going out in public and touching typically dirty surfaces (e.g. hand rails, money, door handles, elevator buttons)
  • Sneeze or cough into the crook of the elbow, or into a tissue which is immediately discarded. Wash hands thereafter
  • Avoid close contact with those who have flu-like symptoms
  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging, and try to keep a one-metre distance from other people in public
  • Avoid spreading fake news. Check all your facts before sharing information
  • Avoid panic-buying, especially of items (e.g. gloves and sanitizers) needed by medically vulnerable populations in society
  • Practice social distancing. This involves staying within the confines of the home and avoiding going into public unless absolutely necessary
  • Quarantining / self-isolating for 14 days is necessary for all those experiencing flu-like symptoms. Seek testing should the following symptoms persist:
    • Fever
    • Dry cough
    • Sore throat
    • Breathing difficulties
  • Limit all forms of travel and social gatherings where possible
  • Where possible, avoid public transport
  • Where possible, work remotely and conduct meetings via digital platforms
  • If you believe you have Covid-19, you can:
    • E-mail the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on cicc1@dirco.gov.za or cicc2@dirco.gov.za
    • Call DIRCO on 012 351 1754
    • WhatsApp 0600 123 456 and say “Hi”, and then follow the prompts
    • Call the National Coronavirus Hotline on 0800 029 999
    • Phone your GP and ask for advice
    • It is NOT recommended that you go to a medical facility without phoning ahead. This will prevent the spread of the virus, or your exposure to the virus

By Ntokozo Miya for Times Live 

Following an investigation that began in 2017, the Competition Commission of South Africa has fined well-known beef supplier, Karan Beef, R2.7-million for contravening the Competition Act. According to a statement released by the commission on Monday, Karan Beef admitted guilt after being found to have been “dividing markets in the supply of processed beef products.”

Irvin & Johnson (I&J) were found guilty of colluding with Karan Beef. An agreement between the two companies restricted Karan Beef from selling products to “certain customers which were reserved for I&J. I&J is disputing the findings and according to BusinessLIVE will now take the matter to the Competition Tribunal. The commission recommended that I&J be fined an amount equal to 10% of its annual turnover.

Food has been at the centre of a number of scandals in South Africa this year. Here’s three more scandals that turned us off our lunch.

Listeria outbreak
Tiger Brands was hit with a listeriosis outbreak in their Polokwane factory. The World Health Organisation describes listeria as a disease caused by bacteria found in processed meat. Its symptoms include muscle pain, diarrhoea and fever. The condition is treatable but may prove fatal for people with a weak immune system.

By the time Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi declared the end of the outbreak in September, 203 people had died and Tiger Brands still couldn’t confirm the source of the outbreak. “Tiger Brands has done every inspection and nobody has pinpointed how this listeria got in the [factory] this way,” said Motsoaledi.

Just as South Africans were celebrating the return of polony and viennas to their lunch boxes, a study conducted by the University of Pretoria concluded that listeria-contaminated polony was still being sold in rural areas.

Between the health minister’s announcement and the latest study, it appears that processed meat is a pretty much a ‘eat-at-your-own-risk’ affair.

Why did US chickens cross the ocean?
The import of chicken from the US to SA began in March after the two countries agreed on the terms for SA to be included in the African Growth and Opportunity Act. “You will find these products generally at third tier supermarkets, as they are aimed at lower income groups,” said Kevin Lovell, chief executive at the South African Poultry Association.

Lovell went on to say that the imported chickens were defrosted and repackaged left-overs of the US market. The outrage that followed was not only around the quality of the chickens, but also the financial impact on the local poultry industry.

Rainbow Chicken Limited Foods (RCL Foods) took a knock and were forced shed 1,200 employees. Food and Allied Workers Union spokesperson August Mbhele said the job cuts were not just limited to RCL Foods. “Even smaller abattoirs and poultry farmers have indicated that they will be forced to close shop because the cost of running these entities is escalating and they are not recovering these costs because there are cheap imports dumped here from other countries.”

Fake food?
When several videos allegedly showing “fake” food being sold at spaza shops trended online, the department of health launched an investigation. The department received complaints that eggs, baked beans, cold drinks and meat were among the items being produced fraudulently by spaza shop owners. Fake food refers to products that are manufactured privately but illegally labelled as well-known brands.

Despite the public outcry, the minister told journalists at a press conference that after more than 400 shops were inspected, no “fake” food had been found.

The cost of food scandals

  • Tiger Brands reported a R380-million loss due to the listeriosis outbreak
  • Rainbow Chicken reported a R75-million loss due to the listeriosis outbreak, with further recurring losses of R20-million a month
  • Rainbow Chicken had to let 1 200 employees go due to the influx of cheaper American poultry products
  • Karan Beef was fined R2.7-million for contravening the Competition Act
  • Fake food news caused looting and rioting in a number of small shops, with losses due to damage and lost income estimated in the millions

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