Covid-19 cases spike in Free State, teachers union raises alarm

Johannesburg – The South African Democratic Teachers Union in Free State has raised the alarm over a surge in Covid-19 cases in the province.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, as of Monday, Free State had the third-highest active coronavirus caseload in the country, standing at more than 3 000.

The union’s provincial secretary, Moloi Mokholoane, said what is of more concern is that schools are the epicentres as many pupils and teachers have tested positive, particularly in Qwaqwa, Ladybrand and Bloemfontein.

“While the cases are on an increase as the third wave of Covid-19 seems unavoidable because of the complacency among teachers, pupils and departmental officials, life is now regarded as secondary and curriculum delivery and recovery is being prioritised,” said Mokholoane.

“As a union, we have lost members during the first and second waves and one life lost is one life too many. We cannot afford to have more orphans as the adults are at high risk due to various factors.”

Overall, Free State has recorded over 86 000 coronavirus cases, with a 93% recovery rate. The province has recorded nearly 4 000 deaths so far.

Free State education department spokesperson Howard Ndaba said the department shared the union’s concerns.

“We have taken all steps necessary to ensure that our schools do not turn into super-spreaders. We have already lost about 70 teachers since the outbreak of the virus. We also call on communities to stay alert as the virus is still with us,” said Ndaba.

Thousands of teachers across the country have succumbed to the virus over the past year.

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