Teachers are emerging as the most infected with Covid-19 in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) schools – this as cases have begun to increase sharply in several provinces countrywide.
"Schools are a reflection of communities where they operate. As we see numbers of confirmed positive cases increase every day across the country, we expect also to see some increase in reported positive cases in schools," Premier Sihle Zikalala said on Sunday.
He said there was a marked increase in the number of infected teachers, pupils and other support staff in the space of a week.
"Last week we had 74 cases of which 57 were teachers and 13 learners. This week the reported number of infected people in schools has increased to 187, of which 139 are teachers and 37 are learners. uMgungundlovu District leads in terms of the number of infected teachers."
Zikalala said it was critical to "manage the situation in schools where positive cases such that the risk of further spread is minimised".
Schools will not shut for 14 days if infections found
The premier said the procedure at schools would not shut it down for two weeks at a time.
"The health department will assess the situation in every school that has a positive case. This will include giving advice whether everyone need[s] to be tested or testing will be limited to primary/close contacts."
He said that while the safety of pupils, teachers and support staff was a priority, there was no reason to stop classes for two weeks at a time.
"One thing that we need to highlight is that there is no need to suspend classes for 14 days each time a positive case has been reported. Ordinarily, it should take the Department of Education not more than three days to decontaminate an affected school and thereafter allow teaching and learning to continue."
Increase in cases
Zikalala also confirmed 7 786 Covid-19 cases, 112 deaths and 3 417 recoveries in KZN. Seven days prior, the province sat at 5 030 confirmed cases, 84 deaths, and 2 594 recoveries.
"This means that in the past week, 2 756 people have tested positive, 28 sadly lost their lives, while 823 thankfully recovered," he said.
He further stated that eThekwini Metro, iLembe District and uMgungundlovu District were still the highest cases in the province.
"Approximately all the districts have had an upsurge of cases since the beginning of June 2020. Notably this week, uMgungundlovu District reported more cases than iLembe daily and now occupies the second spot in terms of the provincial infection rate."
He added that Ugu and Harry Gwala Districts have been recording cases from the Eastern Cape due to their close proximity to the province.