School reopening: WC teachers & learners with comorbidities advised to stay home

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has advised schoolchildren and teachers with comorbidities to stay at home as the province rides out the coronavirus pandemic, even though schools are due to partially open on 1 June

"If you are a learner and you do have one of those comorbidities, my advice would be that you would need to continue your lessons from home," he said during a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.

Winde said the department would have to get the lessons to the pupil.

He added that the same applied to affected teachers – that they should stay home.

This was after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on Tuesday that Grades 7 and 12 could return to school on 1 June.

According to the province's head of the Department of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, the Western Cape is heading into its peak coronavirus period.

Cloete said the Western Cape is getting the worst of it first because it got community transmissions first and started testing beyond people who had a history of international travel.

Over 11 000 cases were noted on the province's coronavirus dashboard by 13:00 on Wednesday.

The province's strategy is to focus on the vulnerable in containing the spread, and also to assist people in managing their own recovery, unless they need hospital admission.

"Global data, and our local experience, tells us that some 90% of people will not require hospitalisation, only experiencing a mild illness. However, some 10% require hospitalisation, and around 1,8% will die.

"But remember – and this is important to bear in mind – this also means that 98,2% will survive this."

He noted that, of those who will die, 96% have an underlying health condition, such as HIV, diabetes, hypertension and tuberculosis.

"We need to protect these people, and those of more advanced age, in the weeks ahead as the virus spreads and we move up the curve, towards the peak."

Risk projections indicate that those who are older (over 55), and those who have one or more comorbidities, are at the highest risk.