News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
25 Jun 2020
4:59 pm

Covid-19: 176 schools affected in Gauteng, Lesufi confirms

News24 Wire

Lesufi added that the department was now preparing to phase in just over a million pupils from 6 July.

Grade 12 pupils return to school under strict hygiene conditions at Parkview Girls High, 8 June 2020. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

A total of 176 schools in Gauteng have been affected by Covid-19 in the province, MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed during the weekly Provincial Command Council update on Thursday.

“Of those schools, 58 learners and 188 educators tested positive.

“We are working very hard to ensure that the affected schools are reopened,” Lesufi said.

Lesufi was providing an update on the status of schools since they opened their doors to Grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June under level 3 of the lockdown.

In addition, 95% of the schools in the province remain operational, with 2 045 out of the 2 161 reopening.

The department has received close to 1 000 applications from teachers who claim to be living with co-morbidities asking to be able to teach from home. The majority of these emanated from Ekurhuleni South. Close to 500 pupils living with co-morbodities have also made applications. The majority of these also came from Ekurhuleni South.

Lesufi added that the department was now preparing to phase in just over a million pupils from 6 July.

“We are ready to receive 1.3 million learners – we are ready to plan for their return, it would be reckless to say we are 100% ready, but we have ensured that the basics are there.

“The numbers are huge and that is why we have no choice but to use a rotational mode, meaning that there are learners and grades that will come on a certain day of the week,” he explained.

News24 has seen pupils returning to school with – including but not limited to – masks, sanitisers and most importantly, screening at the entrance of the school to test temperatures.

According to a top scientist leading the study on South Africa’s first Covid-19 vaccine, this form of thermal screening may not be as effective as one thinks as it only measures surface body temperature.

“When you measure surface body temperature, it doesn’t tell you what your core body temperature is and the surface body temperature is sort of influenced by a number of factors, e.g., if it is very cold outside, your blood vessels constrict and that’s why your fingertips and nose feel very cold, because the blood flow through those surfaces is being reduced,” Professor Shabir Madhi explained during a virtual briefing on on Wednesday.

“What that means is that when you test someone through a thermal screen, the forehead temperature that we are seeing – that basically only shows thermal surface body temperature. That will probably be one or two degrees lower than your core body temperature,” he added.

This created a false sense of security and the only way you can tell if someone has a fever, is through a core body temperature, said Madhi.

“This can be done through rectal temperature or oral thermometer in every one’s mouth,” he explained.

However, Madhi is of the view that schools need to continue and where a positive case is detected, the case must go into isolation.

“The bottom line is that if someone is infected, they need to go into isolation for 14 days and the rest of the school needs to continue. If we close down a school each time there is a new case, few cases detected – we will continue closing down schools for the next two years,” he concluded.

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