Inkatha Freedom Party MP and SCOPA chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa called on broadcasters and mobile operators to deliver regular updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 coronavirus in South Africa, a Parliamentary assembly was held to address the country’s readiness to combat the virus.
Speaking during the session, Hlengwa said that Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C must deliver daily updates to South Africans on the virus.
“Government needs to be transparent and ensure that information is publicly accessible to help educate citizens on the risks and necessary precautionary measures as well as actively avoid panic and misinformation,” Hlengwa said.
“The lack of reliable information can also give rise to baseless rumours and fake news.”
He alluded to measures implemented in Singapore, where the government sends out daily updates on confirmed coronavirus cases, patient discharge locations, and where new clusters of confirmed cases are appearing.
“Government should look into launching public awareness campaigns. These have proven to be effective in some Asian countries, teaching people how to keep good hygiene as well as best practices.”
“There are practical things that need to be done now. The SABC, eNCA and Newzroom Afrika should ensure that they are giving information free of charge on a daily basis to their viewers, particularly during primetime news,” Hlengwa said.
“We are calling on MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, and Cell C to give out daily reminders to our people to make sure that they are well-informed.”
Hlengwa also called on private hospitals to give full assistance to health care centres around the country.
“A public-private partnership of efforts in this regard is very important,” he said.
First South African case
The South African Department of Health confirmed yesterday that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive in South Africa.
“This morning, Thursday March 5, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive,” said the department.
“The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife.”
The department said that after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on 3 March, the patient has been self-isolating to reduce the spread of the virus.