PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - The Plettenberg Bay Covid-19 response team has received just short of R4-million in donations to be used in coronovirus combat and relief efforts.
According to the team, which consists of private and public health sectors as well as several other role players including Bitou Municipality, a total of R3 731 450 has been received of which just short of R2-million has been spent on food aid and medical and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dr Nicola Whiteman said they are in the process of setting up the town's first isolation unit at the Piesang Valley Community Hall.
"With the help of the municipality, the necessary maintenance and cleaning will be done this week and hopefully the hall should be set up and partitioned next week," Whiteman said.
She added that it was imperative to protect the health of the staff working in the quarantine and isolation facilities. "We are setting up a decontamination unit, through which staff and patients leaving the facility will have to pass to ensure that the virus is not spread beyond the facility. We shall be able to replicate this unit at other facilities, should the need arise."
She further said the majority of the medical equipment and PPE they had ordered has arrived and is being stored in a fully alarmed storeroom. "We have a team of volunteers in charge of stock control and we are setting up protocols to ensure we can manage this stock effectively."
Whiteman said Cecily van Heerden from Hospice Plett and Hillary Gray from their Knysna-Sedgefield counterpart are collaborating with counsellors, psychologists and social workers to establish a network to provide patients and their families with psycho-social support, and to provide palliative care training for all healthcare workers in the coming weeks.
"A big concern for us is the growing number of hungry people in the community," said Whiteman.
"We noticed there were many privately run feeding schemes and our concern was that not all the vulnerable groups were being identified and that some individuals may be benefiting from more than one donor."
To combat this, Whiteman explained, they have set up a centralised feeding programme coordinated by local Rob Bokelmann and a group of volunteers who work closely with ward councillors to identify the vulnerable groups and existing feeding initiatives that need support.
"We have donation trolleys at various supermarkets and grocery stores which are collected daily and taken to our central food depot at the Methodist Church. Alternatively, members of the community can take their food donations directly to the Methodist Church between 09:00 and 13:00 Monday to Friday," added Whiteman.
She said it has been a long process to get permission to reopen existing and establish new soup kitchens in Plett. "At last we have a protocol on how this can be done safely. All soup kitchens need to get a certificate of compliance from the Garden Route department of health, whereafter permits will be issued by the Garden Route Disaster Management team.
"Marius Venter [Plett Tourism CEO] is in the process of setting up very well-labelled Jojo tanks at the soup kitchens containing F10 sanitiser. Members of the community will be able to collect a 500ml bottle of F10 sanitiser to take home," Whiteman said.
She noted that the Masks4All Plett & Beyond initiative, run and coordinated by local Stephen Ritky, has produced and distributed just short of 40 000 masks of which 34 876 have been given, at no cost, to the "less financially able" people in Plett. "Donations and sales have generated R412 376, which has been paid out to the local community teams making masks. Ritky works day and night to ensure we reach our goal of 47 000 masks distributed in the Bitou area."
Whiteman reported that efforts to combat the virus have reduced the spread in Bitou as only five cases were identified and all five individuals have recovered.
The Western Cape department of health completed door-to-door screening and testing in Kranshoek over the past two weeks, Wittedrift was tackled on 30 April and Kwanokuthula testing started on Monday.
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