By JULIAN A JACOBS, Makana JOC spokesperson
The Makana Joint Operating Centre (JOC) heard on Tuesday at its regular weekly meeting that close to 11 000 residents in the local municipal area has been vaccinated. Included in the groups already vaccinated were residents from Makhanda, Alicedale, Riebeeck East, Extension 9, and other areas in Joza. About 2000 health care workers, about 850 public school teachers, farmers and farm workers, and residents living in old age homes.
Planned vaccination also took place this week in Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea, residents residing near BB Zondani Hall and eligible residents who are bedridden were visited by the Makana Health subdistrict team. However, the meeting was warned that the number of active COVID-19 cases had [by Tuesday]risen to 57 and a call to all residents was issued to still maintain social distancing, avoid crowded areas, wash your hands, and keep wearing your masks once you are outside your home.
Current vaccination sites in Makana are based at Settlers Hospital and at the Settlers Day Hospital. There are plans to make all primary health care facilities (clinics) vaccination sites to help reduce the number of people moving in and out of town to help reduce overcrowding. The meeting was also briefed on the registration processes to be eligible for vaccination. Besides the Department of Health’s vaccination registration website https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/#/, ward councilors and civil society organisations are helping registering residents who do not have access to the Internet. Residents will be helped once their registration is done and according to the various age groups allowed to be vaccinated.
Municipal owned community halls have been identified to be used as additional vaccination sites. These will be communicated to residents. Ward councilors are also busy with vaccination education programmes in all their areas as part of the ward based rapid response programme. This week councillor Ramie Xonxa, of Ward 2, together with the Department of Health, Department of Social Development and the SAPS are running an awareness campaign on Covid-19 and the vaccination processes.
The meeting was also briefed on the state of readiness of the SAPS in relation to the ongoing protests and looting occurring in several provinces. The SAPS were on standby and had not experienced any public disturbances to date. There was a report on an alleged truck hijacking and the truck being set alight near Extension 7. “The SAPS is monitoring the situation hour by hour. Our crime intelligence has a close eye on what is happening on the ground and what is happening online,” said the SAPS representative. Several vehicle checkpoints have been set up on all roads leading to and out of Makhanda.
It was reported that all municipal services were running as business as usual and that any disruption of its essential services will be communicated to residents. Residents need to note that not all municipal staff are at work as some are working from home.
The community-based kitchens will continue to provide residents with food at their various depots. The Department of Employment and Labour briefed the JOC and stated that most of their processes for those applying for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) beneficiaries has gone online. This was done to avoid crowding at its offices due to Covid-19. All beneficiary payments are done electronically; employers are also encouraged to declare online and those working in short time should be compensated through the usual UIF procedures as long as employers have been paying into the fund. The office visits its outlying areas regularly such as Paterson, Kenton-on-Sea, Alexandria, Alicedale and Port Alfred.
The Makana JOC acknowledged that as a community we need to assist and help residents in this time of need. The executive mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa urged residents to refrain from following what is happening in other parts of our country. He also indicated that residents should comply with all level 4 Covid-19 protocols and obey curfews, wearing masks in public and avoid crowded spaces as far as possible.