As confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in South Africa passing the 150 000 mark, with over 250 000 reported deaths, the Deputy Minister of Social Development Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu appealed to the public and caregivers in residential care facilities in particular, to keep older persons safe and protected from contracting the virus.
"More than ever before, we need to do more and play our part and focus on keeping our older persons protected from COVID-19 as they are particularly vulnerable due to their advanced age, weak immune system and other underlying health conditions. Our collective responsibility is to give them love and care to enjoy their golden days to the fullest", said Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu made this appeal during her assessment visit to ensure compliance with level 3 regulations at the Lodewyk Spies Old Age Home in Eersterus, east of Pretoria. It is registered as a 24-hour residential care facility in terms of the Older Persons Act (Act No. 13 of 2006). To date, no positive case of COVID-19 has been reported at the facility, which currently caters for 96 older persons. The facility is funded to the tune of 4 Million Rand by the Provincial Department of Social Development in the current financial year.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa, all caregivers, cleaners and professional nurses, including nursing assistant were trained on prevention and control measures and undergo daily screening to protect older persons at the facility.
"We are doing everything possible to protect our older persons against this dreaded virus. We don't want to leave anything to chance. Our staff has been tested by the Department of Health and we are following strict health and hygiene protocols", said the residential care facility Manager, Mr Abraham Damon.
The Deputy Minister's assessment visit forms part of the Department's drive and effort to ensure that all 418 residential care facilities for older persons countrywide comply with measures to prevent and contain the spread of coronavirus. Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu handed over personal protective equipments, including hand wash soaps, soup and tea to keep older persons warm during the cold winter months.
Recognising the emotional toll brought about on older persons by the restrictions on visits, the centre has recently started allowing family visits under very strict conditions that comply with social distancing measures and hygiene guidelines. Family visits are strictly monitored at all times.
Deputy Minister stressed that while it is important for older persons to keep in contact with their families for emotional support and wellbeing, their health and safety must remain a priority.
Some residential care facilities for older persons in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape have reported infections and deaths since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa. Currently, persons aged 60 and above account for 57% of all the national reported COVID-19 related deaths.
The Department of Health and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) are currently conducting surveillance of COVID-19 cases at residential facilities for older persons throughout the country.
As part the ongoing measures to ensure all DSD-facilities comply with prevention and control measures, the Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu will on Friday, 3 July 2020 visit Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Centre of Excellence.
This facility serves as a child and youth care centre for children in need of care and also provides services to children with disabilities.
The full details of the visit are as follows:
Date: Friday, 3 July 2020
Venue: Block F, Soshanguve
Members of the media interested in joining Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu for the visit can contact
Ms Makhosazana Mavuso
Cell: 072 732 9381
Media inquiries may be forwarded to:
Ms Lumka Oliphant
Cell: 083 484 8067