Council Speaker, Cllr Nonceba Molwele says Joburg councillors who recently tested positive for Covid-19 have called for community action to intensify efforts of managing the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The plea comes as Johannesburg is identified as the provincial epicentre of Covid-19 infections, with Gauteng battling over 75 000 confirmed cases.
Statistics have also shown that one in five people who have Covid-19 in Johannesburg is from Soweto.
“I received a request from councillors who wished to go public in the hope that their action will contribute to efforts aimed at mobilising community action. The councillors have been recovering and following professional advice,” says Cllr Molwele.
The Speaker notes that by going public with their Covid-19 status, the councillors hope their condition will help reinforce the message that the threat is real and that no one is immune.
“I support their stance as this virus knows no political affiliation, social status, religion or race and all of us in Johannesburg must do our bit to stem the tide," she says.
The Speaker notes that since there is no vaccine or cure for Covid-19, the most effective way to address it was by adhering to the basics of wearing a facemask in public, washing hands for at least 20 seconds and keeping a physical distance.
Cllr Molwele calls on residents of the City to support all those who are affected by the novel coronavirus.
“We should not discriminate against those who have been infected or anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus. Blaming and shaming certain groups of people for a pandemic pose a threat to everyone. Such behaviour negatively affects those with the disease, as well as their caregivers, family, friends, and communities,” she says.
Cllr Molwele notes that stigma can prompt possible social isolation of groups, which might contribute to a situation where the virus is more, not less, likely to spread.
“This can result in more severe health problems that can drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination, prevent people from seeking health care immediately and discourage them from adopting healthy behaviours,” says the Speaker.
Cllr Molwele says the City’s councillors have expressed their commitment to using their experiences to provide advice and assistance to any community member who may be facing challenges related to Covid-19.
“The more people speak out the easier it would become for the community to come together in strengthening the efforts of managing the spread of this virus,” the Speaker says.