Covid report gives insight into pandemic, Gungubele says

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele says that although the government has initiated an intervention to mitigate the impact COVID-19 pandemics, there are many lessons to be learned and gaps to be filled in order to improve the ability of the state to deal with natural disasters.

Gungubele was speaking during the launch of the South Africa Coronavirus Country Report, which documents the measures and interventions the country has taken to combat the coronavirus and its negative socio-economic impact.

“It is important that we learn from our collective experience in order to improve the situation in the future. It is through training that we can focus our attention on improving the ability of the state to cope with outbreaks and other forms of natural disasters,” he said.

The first release of the report mentions the time period in which South America experienced the first and second waves of Covid infections. The second edition will detail the long period after these two waves and some of the results of government intervention.

Gungubele said the report’s value was “obtained through a process of research,” which gave the government a parallel analysis of the Covid situation and allowed the state to respond more effectively.

“As research and analysis continued, various actors improved their understanding of the pandemic, and in the same way, lessons were learned that fed into relevant decision-making processes and helped improve responses,” he said.

Gungubele said some of the report’s recommendations have already been implemented, including those related to social assistance, vaccination, government regulation and the economy.

“There are numerous lessons on what worked well and what didn’t, and specific recommendations on what to do. Significant steps have been taken to date, including the announcement of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan… which signals a shift in the government’s focus on stabilization and recovery,” Gungubele said.

“The extension of the social assistance program was carried out through the disaster social assistance allowance until 2023.”

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He reflected on the impact the Covid outbreak had on South Africans during the early onset of the pandemic, calling it a “health crisis” that had severe social and economic repercussions.

“The complex nature of the pandemic called for a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach and accordingly South Africa’s response was comprehensive and clearly led by the President and Minister of Health. [The] the overall response emphasized saving lives and preserving livelihoods.”

He said the government has taken steps to provide the most vulnerable in society with some form of protection from the effects of the pandemic.