NCC reports on challenges, successes of COVID-19 strategies

South Africa has recorded three deaths attributed to COVID-19 while the number of confirmed cases has risen over 1,300. Several ministers representing the National Command Council will update the country on the status of the lockdown.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Command Commission dealing with the country's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic gave an update on the situation facing the government on Tuesday.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu was the first speaker and commended the people working on the frontlines to assist with essential services including those who assisted social grant recipients on Monday and Tuesday.

READ: COVID-19: Sassa pays out grants early

Zulu said one of the biggest struggles faced by the public was crowds at pay points, but said things have improved.

Zulu admitted struggles, including the late arrival of cash in some areas during the distribution process.

The minister sent her condolences to the families of the three pensioners who died on Monday, either on their way to or in the vicinity of the pay points.

She advised grant recipients to avoid agitation and adhere to the regulations of the lockdown.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi spoke about some of the challenges facing the Department including what the minister referred to as "shifting the burden of the virus onto workers" by some employers.

The minister stated the pandemic is an extraordinary situation and said while employers can negotiate with their employees regarding leave during this time, they should do so with that in mind.

Nxesi urged employers to investigate which options they can access from the government for relief from the economic burden of the virus.

READ: Small businesses to receive COVID-19 fund relief 

He announced a call number to assist with clarity regarding payments from the COVID-19 relief fund for small businesses. The number is 012 337 1997.

Small Business Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the Department will continue to register companies that need to offer essential services.

The minister announced several measures to assist Spaza shops including loans to restock and the facilitation of licensing and permits.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula confirmed all international and domestic flights are still prohibited but said South Africans stranded in foreign countries will be allowed to come back home.

The stranded South Africans will be allowed back into the country but will be subjected to medical checks. 

READ: Ramaphosa on repatriation of SA citizens

Technical flights like overflights, planes who need to be refuelled, flights in distress and medical flights will be allowed.

Mbalula said requests for repatriation of foreign nationals will be granted but there are strict regulations to adhere to - foreign countries must charter flights, and crews from other countries will not be allowed to disembark in the country.

The minister said the Department is still engaging with taxi associations to resolve issues. New directives for the industry will be announced on Wednesday.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor stated the department undertook a number of measures to ensure the safe return of South African nationals who are in other countries attempting to come home.

Pandor said at least 1,471 South African citizens, including students, tourists, and people working in other countries are stranded abroad.

EXCLUSIVE: German tourist on a group trip in SA tests positive for COVID-19

Priority will be given to those stuck at airports, those without funds to travel back and the elderly.

Those who can afford to travel back to SA are urged to do so at their own expense.

Pandor reiterated the message instructing travel agencies not take advantage of desperate travellers for profit.

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