The onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and your wedding

Since President Ramaphosa’s address of the nation on Monday, we have seen South Africa declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

What does this mean for us?  

“Following an extensive analysis of the progression of the disease worldwide and in South Africa, Cabinet has decided on the following measures:

* Firstly, to limit contact between persons who may be infected and South African citizens.

* We are imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China as of 18 March 2020.

* We have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.

* South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran, and South Korea. This is effective immediately.

* Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level.

* Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.

* South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.

* Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong, and Singapore – will be required to undergo high-intensity screening.

* All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.

* We will strengthen surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo, Cape Town, and King Shaka International Airports.

* South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and airports. Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday 16 March. 2 of the 8 seaports will be closed for passengers and crew changes.

* Effective immediately, all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic is prohibited.

* We further discourage all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis, and bus.

* Secondly, it is essential therefore that we minimize the risk of the spread of this virus by limiting contact amongst groups of people.

While we appreciate the economic, religious, and cultural significance of social and community gatherings, the coronavirus is spread through contact between persons. As we have said before, the current circumstances require extraordinary measures to curb the spread of infections.

Countries that have heeded the call to implement these radical measures have fared much better than those that do not. Therefore to encourage social distancing Cabinet has decided on these additional measures:

* Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited.

* Mass celebrations of upcoming national days such as Human Rights Day and other large government events will be cancelled.

* Where small gatherings are unavoidable, organisers will need to put in place stringent measures of prevention and control.

* Schools will be closed from Wednesday, 18 March, and will remain closed until after the Easter Weekend. To compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.

* Government is working closely with colleges, universities and other public facilities such as Parliament, prisons, police stations, and military installations to intensify hygiene control.

* Visits to all correctional centres are suspended for 30 days with immediate effect.

* Government is aware of the confirmed case of a student who has tested positive for the coronavirus at Wits University. Those who have been in contact with the student will be quarantined. The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation is consulting with vice chancellors of universities and colleges across the country and will soon be announcing measures in this regard.

* We call on all businesses including mining, retail, banking, farming to ensure that they take all necessary measures to intensify hygiene control.

* We also call on the management of malls, entertainment centres and other places frequented by large numbers of people to bolster their hygiene control.

Thirdly, to further strengthen our health response:

* Government is strengthening its surveillance and testing systems.

* We are in process of identifying isolation and quarantine sites in each district and metro.

* Capacity is being increased at designated hospitals in all provinces.

* We are also increasing the capacity of existing contact tracing processes.

* We are partnering with the private sector to set up a national tracking, tracing and monitoring system of all people infected with the coronavirus and those they have been in contact with.

We are undertaking a mass communication campaign on good hygiene and effective prevention behaviour.

Therefore, we are calling on everyone to:

* Wash their hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds;

* Cover their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow;

* Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms. ”

The above information was sourced from IOL article, dated 15th March 2020

How does this affect you and your wedding in the upcoming weeks?

The best form of prevention is to postpone/reschedule your event/s until further information is received.  Some wedding venues have already begun cancelling upcoming events.  Some are adhering to the above guidelines and began restricting gatherings to 100 people as well as placing strict hygiene practices in place.  If you will be going ahead with your event, please do take these guidelines seriously to help play your part in educating those around you, staying safe and adhering to the restrictions the government has in place.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ADVICE FOR THE PUBLIC ( As sourced from WHO (World Health Organization situation reports)
If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading or have not travelled from an area where COVID-19 is spreading or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the outbreak. Get the facts from reliable sources to help you accurately determine your
risks so that you can take reasonable precautions (see Frequently Asked Questions). Seek guidance from WHO, your healthcare provider, your national public health authority or your employer for accurate information on COVID-19  and whether COVID-19 is circulating where you live. It is important to be informed of the situation and take
appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family (see Protection measures for everyone).
If you are in an area where there are cases of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice of WHO and guidance issued by national and local health authorities. For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness however, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal. Older people
and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes) are at risk for severe disease (See Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading).

Q & A’s on the WHO website

You can access daily updates on positive cases of COVID-19 through the NICD website to see areas with affected patients in Southern Africa.

NICD frequently asked questions to help you stay informed.

  1. Please take note of the stringent restrictions placed on travel above especially if you have guests out of town guests.  Based on the above, most international travel has already been cancelled.
  2. Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited.  I would think 100 would also include your vendors for the day.  You will have whittle down your guest list.
  3. When redoing your guest list, please pay attention to older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes) who are at risk for severe disease.
  4. When contacting your guests, please advise them of these strict restrictions.  Advise those with flu-like symptoms or respiratory infections to remain at home in self-isolation.
  5. Even though some venues will try to stock up on hygiene products for your event, there is a current shortage of hand sanitisers countrywide.  Do chat with your wedding co-ordinator/venue mediator to discuss what measures will be in place.    – Ask if the venue would place a designated cleaner in bathrooms/washroom to regularly clean, disinfect the areas throughout the event.
  6. You might have to provide additional hygiene products for your event :
    • Hand sanitisers with at least 60% of alcohol content
    • Disinfectant wipes – with alcohol
    • Soaps in bathrooms/washrooms
  7. If hand sanitisers/disinfectant wipes are not available, ensure that the bathrooms/washrooms are well stocked on soaps for regular hand washing
  8. Place visible signage in and around your event area to remind guests to :
    • Wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; OR
    • Use and sanitisers
    • Refrain from general touching, in the form of handshakes, hugging, kissing, etc.  You may have to reconsider the congratulations and group photo pics at your event to limit general touching.
    • Cover their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a  disposable tissue or flexed elbow.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  9. Use disposable tissues and hand paper towels in bathrooms/washrooms.  Material toweling is not advised in these cases.
  10. You might have to reconsider your menu options if you have any raw meat/seafood being served.  It is recommended that all food be prepared carefully and cooked properly in hygienic areas of preparation.  It is advised that all staff handling food to be checked prior to food preparation to ensure no one has any flu-like symptoms or respiratory infections when preparing or serving your food.
  11. You can download signage here – right click and save image as…washing hands 1Vector Illustration Of Washing HandsSignage by WHO (World Health Organization)

safe-greetingshandshakingwearing-gloves

WHO has more signage and advice for the public available on their page – click here to view.

As always,

be-ready-social-1 copy

(click on the image above, save and share)

All information provided above is sourced from the NICD and WHO websites – links are supplied.  Please do not be prone to rumours and unverified information.  Stay informed, verify information supplied and educate those around us.

Read more here : Coronavirus (COVID-19) , Advice to the public by the World Health Organization (WHO)

 

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