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Lentswe, Klerksdorp - A national lockdown is effective from midnight tonight. As South Africans prepared for this historic event to lessen the spread of the contagious COVID-19, the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Joint Operations Committee (JOC) team also readies itself for a three-week intensive work schedule.

The JOC is made up of teams from the medical, local government and security clusters, who have to put in place stringent measures announced by State President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday 23 March.

The medical cluster, which includes various health professionals from both government and private health care, is alert at all times. The Provincial Department of Health in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District has about 25 ambulances with advanced life support systems and equally skilled personnel available to assist.

Private health care institutions Wilmed Park and Life Anncron hospitals have action plans drawn up. Each of the two hospitals have a designated isolation ward with 6 beds whilst mobile testing stations are available to eliminate contact between suspected infections with the rest of other patients free of the virus.

Both District and Local Municipalities have already started implementing strategic plans required to assist residents, more especially those in rural and farm communities with amenity needs such as clean water and educational health campaigns. The DR Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality has already started identifying communities in need of these essential services throughout the district through its Municipal Health and Environmental Management staff. The district Disaster Management Centre as well as the Public Safety Fire Services and Rescue Services Units from all local municipalities are alert to assist in cases where possible accidental exposure is a threat.

The Security cluster, which is made up of South African Police Service (SAPS) and Correctional Service are already enforcing procedures as pronounced by the National Coronavirus Command Council. These include suspending social visits at both correctional facilities and police stations for awaiting trial detainees. Only legal visitations will be allowed. Inmate movement is strictly monitored at correctional services centres with prisoner transfers cancellations or postponement the only option. Isolation areas for new detainees have been identified for quarantine and decontamination purposes.

The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic. It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.

Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.

Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home. All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open. The lockdown is expected to end on 16 April.