The Executive Council meeting of National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) has agreed to urgently set up a response team to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a statement on Tuesday, 17 March 2020, the Executive Council meeting of National Economic Development and Labour Council announced the outcome of the meeting, which was tasked with addressing the spread of COVID-19. The meeting was attended by over 60 leaders from businesses, labour, government and the community, including presidents of trade unions and ministers from Labour, Trade, Industry and Competition, amongst others.
To curb the spread of the virus, the meeting agreed to work together in several areas, per President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for co-operation, collaboration and common action. These include enhancing the public health response, which will see the meeting identifying “ways of improving hygiene to curb the spread of the virus to workplaces and into communities, including through using national and local champions.” Beyond this, the meeting emphasised the importance of tracing contacts and testing them, to identify people who have contracted the virus.
The meeting moved to ensure that health supplies for health professionals, such as hand sanitizers, protective equipment and stock testing, and treating illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases, was available. “The social partners committed to work together to fast track, support and address the constraints to the importation, manufacturing and distribution of health supplies and medical equipment. In this regard, the meeting condemned panic buying, which would put more and unnecessary pressures on supply chains.
The meeting agreed that the workplace could not continue with “business as usual,” and suggested adaptations, such as a change in work hours and lunch breaks, to ensure that employees aren’t in one place at the same time.