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AfriForum calls for disclosure of COVID-19 information

The civil rights organisation AfriForum wrote a letter to Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health today, calling for the disclosure of COVID-19 information, including the protocol being followed for reporting a death as a COVID-19 death. This resulted from limited information on the course of COVID-19 being disclosed, despite President Ramaphosa’s undertaking of transparent conduct during his speech on 13 May 2020.

Barend Uys, Head of Research and Development at AfriForum, says that basic information about the course of COVID-19 in the country is still not being published on a regular basis.

“Without information about the number of cases and deaths per age group, it’s impossible to calculate the most basic indicators, such as the case fatality ratio. Citizens can’t judge the prevailing conditions in the province where they live unless information about the number of tests being done there is disclosed.”

There is also uncertainty about the protocol that is followed to report a death as a COVID-19 death, as well as no clarity on how tracing and testing are approached. Therefore, AfriForum also requested that the protocols for reporting COVID-19 deaths, as well as the approach to and execution of tracing and testing be made available.

AfriForum furthermore requested that the following information be disclosed and updated regularly:

  • The number of COVID-19 deaths per age group;
  • The comorbidities of reported COVID-19 deaths;
  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per age group;
  • The number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases;
  • The number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases;
  • An estimation of the reproduction number (R).

AfriForum also requested that the following information for each province be disclosed:

  • The number of COVID-19 tests performed;
  • The number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients;
  • The number of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital;
  • The number of COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care (ICU) or High Care;
  • The number of COVID-19 patients discharged from ICU or High Care.

“We are citizens, not subjects. The information collected by the Department of Health, is done on behalf of citizenry, and should therefore be disclosed to citizens in a transparent manner. This is not information that the department can withhold,” Uys concludes.

Click here for the letter.

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