Fears grow that schools will close again as pupil Covid-19 numbers spike
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DURBAN - THERE are fears that the schooling year may be disturbed again following reports of more pupils testing positive for Covid-19 around the country as more than 3 000 people test positive daily.
Since April 30, 111 people have died from Covid-19 related complications in KwaZulu-Natal. That brings the total number of deaths in the province to 10497 as of on Wednesday.
While KZN schools continue to record Covid-19 cases, schools around the country such as Lephola Secondary School in Welkom revealed that eight pupils tested positive, eight others were awaiting their results, and one had succumbed to the virus.
The Free State Department of Education closed several schools following reports of Covid-19 cases. In the Lejweleputswa district, a total of 52 confirmed cases were reported in various schools in the Free State.
According to the Education Union of South Africa (Eusa), 27 schools closed in the Northern Cape after pupils and teachers tested positive, and several KZN schools were reporting cases to the union.
Last week, two teachers from Ferndale Secondary School in Durban tested positive for Covid-19.
Last Wednesday, the KZN Department of Education issued a statement cancelling contact sports at schools.
Eusa president Scelo Bhengu called for the department to take action and close schools before Covid-19 cases get out of hand.
“We have reports of a Gauteng school where a principal and his wife tested positive and later almost all the staff tested positive. Homevale Secondary School in the Northern Cape was closed for deep cleaning after teachers and pupils tested positive.”
He said schools were not protected because they last received Personal Protective Equipment in 2020, and both pupils and teachers were now forced to buy their own. “Schools are doing their own thing simply because no one monitors that they are doing the right thing. For example, there is a video circulating on social media where a man is seen checking a pupil’s temperature without even looking at the machine reading and quickly moves to the next pupil in a long queue, where pupils were not observing social distancing.
Bhengu said there were allegations that some principals were hiding cases to avoid bad publicity.
The National Association of School Governing Bodies chairperson Matakanye Matakanya, however, poured water on the urgency to close schools.
“As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children how to protect themselves against the virus,” said Matakanya.
KZN Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said Covid-19 infections in KZN were not alarming.
Meanwhile, since the first day of the Phase 2 vaccination programme, May 17, the KZN Health Department has vaccinated more than 140 000 people.
According to the department, KZN has recorded a total of 339 091 positive cases, 3179 of which are active cases, 324 551 recoveries and 154 new cases, as of on Wednesday.
“The province continues to rank the second highest in terms of the number of lab-confirmed cases countrywide,” the department said.
“KwaZulu-Natal is observing a steady increase in the number of cases recorded weekly with a slight increase in the incidence risk. However, the province has not crossed the alert and/or resurgence line yet,” the department said.
According to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, 529 267 people had registered to be vaccinated in KZN on May 24 at midnight. They are made up of 198 190 health-care workers and 331 077 senior citizens.
Mkhize said a total of 92 729 healthcare workers had been vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol and a total of 80 121 people had been vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine by May 24 at midnight.
Mkhize said as of May 25, the cumulative number of cases reported in South Africa was 164 0932 reflecting a 0.19% increase, with 3 084 new cases reported over the past 24 hours, with 41 005 active cases.
He said deaths were at 55 976.