New Covid-19 cases rising – Business Chamber calls for continued vigilance



news-400-691-denise-van-huyssteen-2.jpg Denise Van Huyssteen

As South Africa enters a fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, increasing vaccine uptake and remaining vigilant on public hygiene measures are key to keeping Nelson Mandela Bay’s economy open for business and protecting customers, employees, and jobs.

With Covid-19 cases steadily rising and less than half of the metro’s eligible population fully-vaccinated, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has called on businesses, public facilities and residents to fight against “Covid fatigue”.

South Africa’s coronavirus positivity rate reached a four-month high of 25.9% in the past week, while winter is on the doorstep, when people are more susceptible to respiratory infections and more likely to gather indoors, enabling the virus to spread faster.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on the economy and on people’s livelihoods. The last thing we want to see are the return of tougher compliance restrictions. We want business, especially tourism, hospitality, events, retail and other customer-facing businesses, to be able to continue to operate without disruptions,” says Denise van Huyssteen, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

“We believe the only way to keep our local economy operating and in recovery mode is to ensure adherence to hygiene measures such as masks and sanitising of hands and surfaces, controlling numbers of people in enclosed spaces, and encouraging and supporting employees to get vaccinated.”

The weekly pace of vaccinations in the metro has slowed to almost zero, and only 44% of the Bay’s eligible population are fully vaccinated. Van Huyssteen therefore urges employers and educational institutions to share credible information and encourage vaccination, particularly where vaccine hesitancy is high, in order to raise levels of immunity and avoid rising infection rates.

“The levels of vaccine hesitancy, especially among the youth, are highly concerning and we have recently seen Covid-19 outbreaks in some local schools. It is vital that educational institutions and employers continue communicating the science and the benefits of vaccination and encourage people to get vaccinated.

“In workplaces and educational sites, managers can arrange for the health department to visit and offer vaccinations on-site, or they could make it possible for employees to be transported to vaccination sites,” she says.   “Also, it is vital that those that have already been fully vaccinated, ensure that they get their booster shots periodically.”