Covid-19 Resurgence Response Plan for Western Cape: Premier & Health MEC briefing

Adhoc Committee on Covid-19 (WCPP)

29 December 2020
Chairperson: Ms M Wenger (DA)
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Meeting Summary

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The Western Cape Premier stated that the Covid-19 Resurgence Response Plan for the Western Cape was submitted to the President on 4 December 2020. The President adopted a differentiated approach with the Garden Route being declared a hotspot on 14 December 2020. With increases in infections in most Western Cape municipalities, the Western Cape submitted proposals to the National Health Minister Premier. The President declared the whole of the Western Cape a hotspot on 28 December 2020 and introduced Lockdown Level 3.

Western Cape statistical information as at 1pm on 28 December 2020:
• Total confirmed COVID-19 cases: 196 474
• Total recoveries: 151 261
• Total deaths: 6332
• Total active cases (currently infected patients): 38 881
• Tests conducted: 1 005 085
• Hospitalisations: 3064 with 363 of these in ICU or high care.

The Western Cape Department of Health said that the Premier convened a weekly strategy meeting with Premier’s Coordinating Forum (PCF) over the holiday period: 11, 22, 29 December; 5, 12 and 19 January. Metro and District reports were submitted weekly to it. The Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) remained activated for the Covid-19 pandemic and was monitoring the second wave. PDMC Joint Operations Committee (JOC) briefing meetings took place every Tuesday.

Members asked about the strategy for minimizing the impact of load shedding on oxygen supply and what was Plan B if the oxygen supplier, Afrox, should fail for technical reasons or load shedding. A request was made to formally support the regulations proclaimed in the Gazette of 29 December 2020. Reference was made to the Health MEC going on leave during the pandemic and questions were asked about this as it was important for sacrifices to be made by senior officials. Alcohol sales had been stopped from 16 December as this had put a serious strain on the health sector and Members asked what recommendation would the Health MEC give on that topic going forward. Some Members said they found the comments made quite astounding when the authorities had always known that a second wave would be coming. They asked why the Hospital of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) had been closed after only two months. There was a lack of unanimity amongst Members about indoor versus outdoor risks of contracting Covid-19 and so a resolution would not be adopted on this. The Committee will meet again as the two-week imposition of Lockdown Level 3 comes to an end

Meeting report

Western Cape Government (WCG) presentation
Mr Alan Winde, Western Cape Premier, stated that the Western Cape Covid-19 Resurgence Response Plan was submitted to the President on 4 December 2020. The President requested and adopted a differentiated approach – with the Garden Route being declared a hotspot on 14 December 2020. The Western Cape submitted a proposal to Health Minister Mkhize and the Premier provided inputs to the President's Coordinating Council (PCC). The President declared all of Western Cape a hotspot on 28 December 2020.

Western Cape (WC) statistical information as at 1pm on 28 December 2020:
• Total confirmed COVID-19 cases: 196 474
• Total recoveries: 151 261
• Total deaths: 6332
• Total active cases (currently infected patients): 38 881
• Tests conducted: 1 005 085
• Hospitalisations: 3064 with 363 of these in ICU or high care

President's Address on 28 December 2020 announced:
• Regulations issued in Government Gazettes 44044 and 44045, dated 29 December 2020
• Adjusted Level 3 restrictions in place until 15 January 2021
• Businesses may continue to operate as long as health protocols and social distancing are adhered to
• Intention is to keep the economy open while strengthening measures to reduce transmission
• 22 districts of Western Cape were declared coronavirus hotspots based on high proportion testing positive
• All beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas closed to public
• Travel within hotspots to be minimized to essential travel
• The nationwide curfew was extended from 9pm to 6am
• Non-essential establishments – shops, restaurants, bars and cultural venues – must close at 8pm
• Sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol not permitted
• Prohibition on consuming alcohol in public spaces.

Dr Keith Cloete, Head: Western Cape Department of Health, gave the Health update:

5-point Covid Containment Strategy:
1. Change community behaviors to prevent infections:
• Maintain strong, bold central public messaging and targeted local messaging
• Coordinated Provincial, City, District enforcement of new regulations led by Law Enforcement and Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs)

2. Surveillance and outbreak response:
• Surveillance and outbreak containment continues, with established community transmission
• Daily surveillance huddles continue to identify and contain potential local outbreaks in vulnerable groups

3. Scale up health platform COVID capacity:
• PHC and hospital COVID capacity has been scaled up in each geographic area, as cases increase
• Local teams use trigger points for stepwise escalation of PHC, intermediate, acute and critical care access

4. Scale down non-COVID services:
• Maintain a core quantum of essential non-COVID services, while stepwise scaling up COVID capacity
• Actively reduce most non-COVID services to allow for COVID capacity, in the face of alcohol-related trauma

5. Safe-guard and protect well-being of health care workers:
• Ensure sufficient PPE supplies to protect all front-line staff members, and source additional staff members
• Implementing Occupational Health policy fully, including addressing mental well-being for staff

Metro Overview
• Metro continues to see steep increases in cases with nearly double (1.9x) the number of new daily cases compared to first wave peak.
• All sub-districts have exceeded their first peak except Klipfontein (almost equal first peak) and Khayelitsha.
• Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern all approximately three times first wave peak.

Rural Overview
• Overall, rural districts have nearly 2.5 times more cases now than in first wave peak.
• Second wave peak is more than double the first wave peak in all rural districts except Central Karoo (64% higher than first peak).
• Stabilizing along Garden Route continues but watching closely given large numbers of visitors in district.

Acute Service Platform
• Currently 3131 Covid patients in WC acute hospitals (1885 in public hospitals; 1246 in private hospitals). This excludes persons under investigation (PUIs) and cases in specialised hospital settings.
• COVID hospitalisations have continued increasing whilst we are experiencing significant trauma and psychiatric pressures
• Metro hospitals are running at an average occupancy of 103%; George area hospitals at 90%; Paarl area hospitals at 101% & Worcester area hospitals at 94%.
• COVID and PUI cases currently make up more than 40% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both Metro and Rural Regional Hospital areas.
• Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 299 patients (2007 cumulative admissions), effectively at maximum capacity; Sonstraal currently has 20 COVID patients (and 27 TB patients).
• Oxygen utilisation running at 68.92% of available daily capacity and the mass fatality centre has admitted 702 bodies to date (currently 106 bodies).

Update on Public Sector Testing
• There has been a significant increase in testing in the public sector that has been maintained at double the testing rate prior to the resurgence
• National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) successfully using mobile antigen testing in the Garden Route and Metro. NHLS has also now begun rolling out antigen testing at hospitals with on-site labs
• The testing criteria have been updated based on available testing capacity, and testing restrictions have been implemented in the Cape Metro

Oxygen Management System
• Daily oxygen needs and oxygen utilization dashboard has been established to monitor demand versus supply across all hospitals.
• Hospitals with highest oxygen availability and utilization pressures are Worcester, Mitchells Plain, Karl Bremer and Victoria Hospitals. This is being actively managed via a daily huddle and our Engineering team.
• AFROX currently producing 65 tons per day. Current demand is 52 tons per day. AFROX has agreed to make an additional 5 tons/day available to us.

Scaling down non-Covid capacity
• Biggest challenge remains alcohol-related trauma, especially in emergency centres and in critical care.
• Psychiatric pressures at acute hospitals have meant 100 additional beds needed at psychiatric hospitals (60 beds opened already; 40 beds will open on 4 January) to decongest acute hospital platform.
• De-escalation of all other non-COVID primary health care (PHC) and hospital care activities.

Safe-guarding health care workers
• Biggest challenge is the increasing COVID infection rate amongst health care workers, and the impact on staff member isolation and quarantine.
• Availability of additional staff members for contract work and via agencies is a significant challenge.
• Number of people willing to volunteer their services has also decreased significantly.
• There is sufficient PPE across all the health facilities, and in central storage, with additional orders being placed in recent weeks.
• System to provide on-site support to frontline staff in terms of mental well-being is being scaled-up.

Current Health Care Worker Infections
Currently, 926 Health Care Workers across 92 institutions are infected with COVID-19 which equates to 2.80% of the total staff complement of 33 062.
• Cumulative total of 7 215 staff members took COVID related leave since March 2020.
• 36 287 days were taken over the period which is 5 days per case on average.
• Status quo remains as PERSAL is closed until the first week of the new year.

Vaccine strategy
• Proactive strategy for SAHPRA approved vaccines in Western Cape – National Minister officially engaged.
• Technical experts will conduct a formal option appraisal of all vaccines (efficacy, safety, affordability).
• Prioritization:
- Health Care workers and other essential workers
- Vulnerable groups – elderly and people with co-morbidities
Demand forecast and costing:
- Estimated numbers of vaccines required per prioritized category
- Cost estimates and confirmation of budget
• Timeline: South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approval, sourcing and distribution strategy to provide vaccines early in 2021.

Governance Arrangements
Dr Harry Malila, Director-General: Western Cape Government, explained that the Premier convened a weekly strategy meeting. The Premier’s Coordinating Forum (PCF) was a meeting weekly over the holiday period: 11, 22, 29 December and 5, 12 and 19 January. Metro and District reports were submitted weekly to it. The Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) remained activated for the Covid-19 pandemic and was monitoring the second wave. PDMC JOC briefing meetings took place every Tuesday.

Law Enforcement: Provincial Traffic
• Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services implemented a total of 274 integrated roadblocks, vehicle check points and speed control operations during 21- 27 December 2020 and 22 685 vehicles were checked
• A total of 459 speeding offences were recorded and 5 015 fines were issued for traffic violations ranging from driver to vehicle fitness totalling R4 456 400
• 10 vehicles were impounded and 81 were discontinued as non-roadworthy
• 28 motorists were charged under the Disaster Management Act and fines totalled R86 000
• 48 arrests were made for National Road Traffic Act, Criminal Procedure Act, Liquor offences.
• 320 investigations into Disaster Management Regulations contraventions since 27 March 2020
• Of these, 91 section 71 matters were placed on Liquor Licencing Tribunal case roll of which 53 licences were suspended
• 77 COVID-19 related section 20 matters were forwarded to the Liquor Licensing Tribunal
• In 27 matters, fines totalling R2 563 570 were issued, of which R1 381 570 was suspended for 24 months on condition licenced holder does not contravene the Act and licence conditions again during this period

Communications Overview
• Messaging focuses on the most effective infection-prevention behaviours: Residents must wear their masks, wash their hands regularly and practice social distancing. They must avoid the 3 Cs: crowded places, confined spaces and close contact. Over the festive season we concentrated the message on keeping gatherings small, short, distanced outside, providing practical steps for residents to follow.
• To land this message, the WCG has run extensive communication campaigns in all languages and different media channels so all communities get the messages needed to stay safe. This is in addition to daily media statements, and the Premier's weekly DigiCons.

Fatalities Management
• City and all five Districts revisited their Mass Fatality Plans and support plans to ensure readiness for implementation at short notice.
• All plans were shared with the District JOC and Joint District and Metro Approach (JDMA) structures.
• Urgent legal clarity obtained on the Provincial Position on a National Directive indicating that Covid-19 testing should take place on all in-community deaths
• WC Department of Health is in consultation with National on its practical implications.
• Guidance provided to the Working Group on required actions in the interim.
Availability/Support of Home Affairs
The Acting Home Affairs Provincial Manager facilitated:
• Opening of 3 offices strategically placed across the Province during the Christmas long weekend to register deaths – these officials worked without overtime remuneration to serve the citizens of the Province.
• Reintroduction of the mobile unit to relieve pressure in specific areas or where offices are closed due to positive COVID-19 cases.
• All Home Affairs offices to remain open until 7 pm during the week up and until 31 December 2020.
 Issuing of paperwork – Address red tape
• Challenges were identified with the issuing of some of the paperwork required prior to burial/cremation (a number of stakeholders are involved in this process) – blockages were identified and addressed.

Mr R Mackenzie (DA) asked what the strategy was for minimizing the impact of load shedding. He asked what Plan B would be in the event that Afrox (oxygen supplier) should fail for technical reasons or load shedding. He asked if the transportation of health workers was still taking place. What systems and mechanisms were in place to deal appropriately with the mental health of frontline workers?

He asked how confident the Health Department was about its staff recruitment strategy. Was enough funding available to fund the plans mentioned by the Premier? He asked about plans for schooling in the new year.

He referred to the request to SA Military for specific staff for hospitals and asked when that assistance could be expected. On the proposals submitted to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), he asked which proposals had not been rejected. He sought the rationale for people staying inside despite infection being more likely indoors than outside.

Mr C Dugmore (ANC) suggested that the Committee formally supported the gazetted regulations as proclaimed on 29 December 2020. Addressing the Premier, he asked if the MEC for Health, Ms Mbombo had been on leave as he believed that during the current pandemic period, it was important for sacrifices to be made by senior departmental officials.

He expressed concern about the statement by the Premier about the tightened lockdown for two weeks. While the regulations indicated a two-week period, it would be dangerous to give the public the impression that after two weeks, things would go back to normal when that was far from the reality.

Mr M Xego (EFF) sought clarity on alcohol sales which put serious strain on the health sector around the 16 December period. He asked what the advice from Health MEC Mbombo would be on that topic going forward. He asked what measures were in place to ensure there were enough frontline workers, as in the past there had been serious challenges, disputes and even striking by frontline workers. He asked what challenges were faced by government in the dispute resolution with health care workers, along with the mechanisms being put in place to deal with compensation which workers had been complaining about.

Mr B Herron (GOOD) said he found the WCG comments quite astounding, especially as they said they always knew a second wave would be coming, and asked why the Hospital of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) had been closed after merely two months. Why and who had taken the decision to close the Hospital of Hope when they knew that it could supply 800 beds for the second wave which was far worse than the initial wave?

Mr Herron failed to understand the message about the risk of indoor versus outdoor contracting of the Covid-19 virus. In his view there was no way that communication messages should be stating that there is no risk in being on a beach. This was because in the summer season, crowding often occurred on beaches. He asked what the message from the Western Cape Department of Health was on outdoor spaces – in particular beaches and overcrowding and if it aligned with scientific information.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) said he had not yet scrutinized the regulations and as such could not blindly support them. He asked if additional restrictions/regulations would be imposed on the hotspot areas, as he believed the entire Western Cape was a hotspot area. He asked how the social distancing message was being communicated to people who stayed in townships and overcrowded areas and houses; whilst addressing behavioral change.

He asked if there were other suppliers who could provide the Western Cape with oxygen. He asked why the Department was using only one supplier and not looking at others as the province was using more oxygen than it had ever used before.

Premier response
Premier Winde replied that, as far as he knew, all the contingencies for the Red Dot transport strategy remained intact. On the union meetings, it was a process which they would be delving back into. On engagements with faith-based organizations, they had a strategy team and strategy meetings which took place regularly. On schools, it was about monitoring the next seven to fourteen days and providing inputs to the National Government on the changes and tweaks they wanted to make along the way. All those discussions and decisions would be dealt with in their strategy meetings.Currently, they’ve been focusing on the second wave, as it affected their projections and modelling; as such, the schooling question would most likely be dealt with soon.

The Western Cape presentation to the NCCC indicated that according to scientific studies, one is safer in open spaces than confined closed spaces and it attached full documentation on this. Whilst they made presentations to the NCCC, they were not involved in the discussions which took place, and no feedback was given once the Western Cape submission was made. The Premier stated that Ms Mbombo had not taken leave and attended all virtual meetings regularly.

Premier Winde stated that it had not been a mistake to close down the CTICC Hospital of Hope in September 2020. He emphasized that the emergency medical team was world class, probably one of the top teams in the world. Two things happened when the CTICC Hospital closed down, firstly the economy had to step into that space and secondly, the staff who manned the CTICC went back to their provinces to assist with the waves which were hitting their provinces. It may have been 862 beds; however, they were now already sitting with 880 beds in field hospital spaces. The second wave model definitely indicated to them that they did not need the CTICC Hospital because they only went up to 50%.

In the presentation to NCCC, Western Cape stated that it needed 14 days, where every seven days they would go back to the public to report on the situation as it unfolded. Western Cape would report back to the NCCC every seven days and in 14 days' time, they would review matters based on the environment as that time. It was imperative to communicate with the public regularly, otherwise people were just going to give up and not adhere to the rules over the next 14 days – something which has happened in other countries.

On staffing, they definitely did not want a field hospital like the one in the Eastern Cape which Mercedes Benz put in place but could not operate due to insufficient staff.

It made sense to allow people to be able to have free entertainment especially for people who live in confined spaces as long as they keep within their own bubble and follow the rules. The rules would be followed up with extensive law enforcement management programmes.

He was certain that there would be further amendments to the lockdown regulations when it came to hotspot areas especially. There were many questions about the regulations which needed to be dealt. There were many instances where essential workers and their transportation to work and back, as well as long distance travelers in general, needed to be dealt with.

Health MEC response
Dr Nomafrench Mbombo replied that that all staffing issues were reported on, ranging from psychological and mental health to the everyday screening. Systems and mechanism were in place which recorded daily how many staff had been infected both from private and public sector hospitals When it came to staff wellness, the Department tried to be as transparent as possible and worked closely with unions as they formed part of the labor engagements during the various stages. She specifically submitted information to the Premier and Provincial Cabinet requesting escalation to national level on the need for a two-week tighter lockdown to seal the cracks in the health system.

Ms Mbombo replied that they received help from the private sector and were utilizing Mediclinic to reduce the backlog on cataracts and other surgeries. On protocol and negotiation, they wanted people to be treated the same as they were supposed to be treated. On what the "package" was, they made it a point that National had to sign those which the Western Cape DoH was reluctant to sign. Fortunately, they took some cases to the National Minister of Health around the first peak who understood the situation and at the time urged the Minister to sign off on the packages.

On the CTICC field hospital, she explained that the Committee needed to understand that each bed in a hospital had its own label. Using the example of a psychiatric bed, that bed needed specific services in the context of its label and the same applied with that of field hospitals and the package which it required.

The strikes and staffing challenge was something they were working hard on. She recalled that on 2 December 2020, unions took the National Government to court over the three-year wage agreement. The responsibility also fell to her to try and negotiate as custodian of the Public Servants Association (PSA), along with various leaders of management within the Department of Health to assist the staff where possible.

She emphasized that the data evidence gathered indicated that the alcohol industry and sale of alcohol caused a lot of strain on the health care system. As such, she supported the restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol to give relief to the health system.

Director General response
Dr Malila replied that discussion has been ongoing with religious leaders on what events could be deemed a potential super spreader. Enormous support was received by religious leaders. They have even had proposals from key religious institutions on church services moving into the virtual space, including the Muslim community leader's proposal to use the hour of prayer to spread the Covid-19 message. In his presentation, he had said it required not only a government approach but rather a whole of society approach. In talking with the unions, they have talked about the well-being of staff. They needed to ensure that the safety of their staff was key.

Head: Department of Health response
Dr Cloete explained that for load shedding and continued oxygen supply, they had generators in all hospitals for such contingencies. However, generally they could go to the City of Cape Town and obtain exemptions from load shedding.

He wished to make it very clear that as public health professionals, they did not pronounce on any political ideology but rather on the evidence provided to them. They have made it very clear that outdoors is less dangerous or one is less likely to contract the virus compared to indoors because of airborne spread. They made it clear that it did not matter if one was indoors or outdoors, if there was a crowd, the risk increased.

For oxygen supply, they worked with Afrox which was a major supplier. They also supplied the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and parts of other provinces. There was an agreement to help them move some of the Garden Route capacity to the Eastern Cape. On crowded places, the basic message was to prevent and avoid crowded spaces.

The Red Dot transport system was implemented for healthcare workers due to the restrictions of the curfew in the evening. The system worked out to R300 a trip per person and eventually it became too expensive. As such they have had to start phasing it out. Brackengate was the only place where the system was still in place as it was not on any transport routes.

For the mental health support of staff, they had a contract with Metropolitan Health as their service provider, which deployed psychologist teams to speak to staff on site. On organized labor, they have set the notion with members to be able to bond in a safe space they trusted, work together and share things together with the goal of establishing a relationship of trust with those members.

The Chairperson said that unfortunately there would not be time for another round of questions.

Ms R Windvogel (ANC) expressed her displeasure at not having the opportunity to pose questions – only 15 minutes out of a two and a half hour meeting had been set aside for questions.

The Chairperson replied that she had tried to manage the time as best she could during the meeting, however due to the nature of the meeting, the presentations ran longer than the indicated time period. Members would have the opportunity to pose further questions in writing and get a response.

Mr Dugmore stated that each party had had only three minutes in a two and a half hour meeting to pose their questions. It made a complete mockery out of the concept of accountability. He proposed that in a three-hour meeting, the presentations take no longer than one hour.

The Chairperson responded that the meeting came as a result of her letter to the Speaker. No requests had been received by the ANC to convene the meeting. Secondly, the Chairperson stated that the Committee had witnessed her state that the presentations be kept to 45 minutes, however, given the state of the pandemic, the two Departments provided the Committee with an enormous amount of information. She emphasized that there would be further engagements with the Departments.

Ms P Lekker (ANC) said that the ANC was more than willing to sit beyond 5pm.

Mr K Sayed (ANC) agreed that he had more time to continue the engagement with the Departments. When managing the engagement, the executive should consistently be reminded that Members wish to ask more than one round of questions.

Ms D Baartman (DA) said that unfortunately she already had a prior engagement. Secondly, she stated in reference to a previous meeting which dealt with a same issue, urged the Committee to have consistency when it came to such arrangements.

Mr Mackenzie said that the Committee needed to be mindful of the staff and it was unfair of Committee members just to assume that the staff and officials had the time to continue the meeting.

Mr D America (DA) stated that he did not object to the proposal made by Mr Dugmore that presentations take no longer than one hour in a three-hour meeting. However, he would like to amend the proposal and that presentations not exceed 50% of the allocated meeting time.

Mr Sayed supported this proposal. This prescribed time allocation would provide Members with a platform for engagement in the interest of their constituencies.

Mr Dugmore agreed to the amended proposal that the presentations do not exceed 50% of the meeting time.

No objections were received to the proposal and the proposal was adopted.

Mr Christians said that he did not get a response to his question on if there would be sufficient oxygen supply when Western Cape gets to its peak. He requested that it be forwarded to the relevant Department.

Ms Baartman asked if the Provincial Government would lobby National Government to ask that the South African Airways (SAA) bailout money of R10 billion be used to pay for the Covid-19 vaccine instead. Currently, South Africa had paid R220 million for the vaccine which would cover only about 10% of the population whereas the SAA bailout money could cover 40% of the population. Secondly, she sought an answer from the National Minister for Health and Minister for Finance on the reasons for the payment deadlines for the Covax Vaccine Facility deposit being missed twice.

Mr G Bosman (DA) asked if the Committee could get an update from the Department on what Home Affairs was doing to get the required forms to hospitals. He knew Tygerberg Hospital had a problem with that.

Mr Dugmore reminded the Committee of his initial resolution that the Adhoc Committee supported the regulations which had been gazetted.

Ms Baartman wished to propose an amendment to the resolution: the Committee welcomed the temporary introduction of the additional restrictions on alcohol consumption and the gathering of people. The Committee would remain opposed to the closure of outdoor spaces such as beaches and parks. Scientific information and advice went against the notion that the outdoor space is not well ventilated; it is far safer than being indoors. All restrictions should be reconsidered after 14 days and be removed in places where they are no longer needed.

Mr Christians said that he would not support either of the proposals put forward by Mr Dugmore and Ms Baartman as he had not had sufficient time to scrutinize the regulations.

Mr A Van der Westhuizen (DA) said that he found some of the regulations on alcohol sales very restrictive. He did not believe that such a wide-ranging ban was supported by evidence. He did not believe that the alcohol ban was worth the impact on the liquor industry.

Mr Herron, in addressing Ms Baartman’s proposal, was not sure if the scientific evidence for 'open spaces being less dangerous' could be adopted as a resolution. Despite it being referred to as scientific information, the Committee had not received that information yet. It was very clear from Dr Cloete’s remarks that the debate on beaches was what he had called a political ideological debate. As such, he did not believe that the Committee should resolve to adopt Ms Baartman’s proposal.

Mr Sayed requested a list to be provided by the Premier on how many MECs had taken leave, excluding for health reasons, since 26 March 2020 and who acted in their positions while on leave. Media reports had shown that the Premier had called the Health MEC to order for not "keeping with the current atmosphere". He asked what practical action would be taken about that. On load shedding, he asked for an explanation to be provided by the Department of Public Enterprises or Eskom why the country was experiencing load shedding at the start of Lockdown Level 3. The response from the Premier and MEC on the closing of the CTICC Hospital did not make any sense. He asked for a written explanation by the Premier why the CTICC Hospital of Hope was closed.

Mr Herron said he had a number of questions but would forward them in writing to be answered.

The Chairperson proposed that the next Adhoc Committee meeting take place on either 12 or 13 January 2021 at the end of the two-week Level 3 lockdown. It would afford the Committee an opportunity to assess its efficacy and engage with the Health Department and Department of the Premier. She informed the Committee that she had written to the DoH to ask that the weekly reports resume on the questions which they had workshopped together, with the Committee receiving its first report on 11 January 2021.

Members were wished a happy and safe new year and the exact date for the next meeting would be communicated in due course depending on the availability of the stakeholders.

The meeting was adjourned.


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