Business for South Africa fully supports the decisive action taken by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government to help mitigate the health, labour market and economic impacts of the coronavirus on South Africa.
As organised business, we are actively collaborating with government to use business resources and capacity to support public sector initiatives. We have mobilised volunteer resources from across South African business bodies and organisations, member companies large and small, professional services firms as well as communication specialists, to form focused working groups that are driving a coordinated and proactive programme.
Our primary goal is to update the country’s business community and other stakeholders on progress made across the various working groups, challenges faced, calls to action, business resources to assist in these profoundly challenging times, and links to other important information from government and other role-players.
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Workgroups have mobilised rapidly and a Project Management Office (PMO) capability has been established to optimally coordinate activities between the various working groups. These working groups have been organised into health, labour market, economic, communication and legal workstreams, and are working tirelessly to address the different challenges faced by business across these focus areas.
"...established to better coordinate activities across the various interventions."
1. Does the long-term wearing of masks have any negative impact on one's health?
Answer: Prolonged use of any face mask has not been shown to cause carbon dioxide toxicity or lack of adequate oxygen in healthy people. Healthcare workers routinely wear masks for prolonged periods while performing their duties.
Cloth masks provide an additional layer of protection by reducing the number of microorganisms that a person releases into the air. Mass mask wearing will ensure that fewer potential viral droplets are released into the air. Wearing a mask reduces the risk that someone will be exposed to the virus.
2. Why must bodies be wrapped in plastic bags?
Answer: The human remains of a person who has died from coronavirus are considered contagious and should be kept only in designated mortuaries. Under no circumstances shall the human remains be directly handled, whether for aesthetic, hygiene preparations, cultural or religious reasons. Human remains shall be placed in transparent leak-proof double body bags and sealed. A third non-transparent and unsealed bag must be added when the body is moved to the mortuary. The third bag should have handles and an appropriate BIOHAZARD warning tag written "Hazard Group 4 Pathogens".
No one is allowed to exhume a body unless they have permission from the relevant authorities to do so. If someone wants to exhume a body for any reason it must be done with permission to ensure everyone's safety.
3. Myth: Lockdown measures deprive people of their freedoms and are in keeping with an authoritarian regime.
Answer: The current measures are temporary and have been enacted to protect our nation and her people. Our freedoms will never be at risk and are protected by the Constitution, Bill of Rights and our commitment to the rule of law and democracy and freedom.
4. Myth: Vaccines are unsafe and normal safety protocols have been circumvented to fast track their authorisation for use.
Answer: The fast development and approval of vaccines is a great human feat worthy of celebration. This was possible because we have learnt over many decades how to develop and test vaccines, and we were able to take those lessons and challenge ourselves to produce a vaccine much quicker.
No step in the development, testing or ratification of the COVID-19 vaccines has been skipped. The world was able to develop vaccines fast because scientists and governments around the world collaborated in a manner that has never been achieved before pooling resources and information to ensure that everyone can contribute to the knowledge. The socio-economic devastation the virus is causing is what has motivated developers to move with urgency without compromising on quality standards.
Business unreservedly supports the position that is being articulated by the Presidency, and the recently established National Command Council. It is working in a spirit of close collaboration and alignment with the National Departments of Health, Employment and Labour, and Trade and Industry, as well as NEDLAC.
To share best practice and ensure an enhanced understanding of the pandemic, while implementing practical measures among all constituents to mitigate risk and financial hardships caused by this global catastrophe.
EDUCATION AND UPDATES
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Corporate members of the various bodies have also enthusiastically endorsed the Solidarity Fund to drive social cohesion, to make a donation:
Desperate times demand desperate measures. We have embarked on this major collaboration – among South African businesses and with government - to share best practice, reduce risk wherever possible, and implement practical measures to ease the hardships caused by this global catastrophe. We will see through this pandemic by preparing effectively, adapting where necessary and acting decisively.