The CSIR is collaborating and contributing to the response strategy of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT) in the development of COVID-19 response plans as part of a long-term programme to improve public transport service delivery in the province.
The CSIR has developed an online government-civil society engagement platform. The discussion platform is devoted to sharing resources and developing responses to lessen the effect of COVID-19 on people living in poorly serviced, dense and crowded informal settlements and inner cities.
South Africa’s National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) approached the CSIR to assist in its preparations to support local municipalities in their response to the COVID-19 disaster and mitigate all possible risks. The focus of the support was to provide conceptual and guiding input to the approach centre’s to the national crisis.
The CSIR’s Prof. Pravesh Debba is leading a group of digital modellers and collaborators that aim to share critical information, knowledge and data with the national Department of Health, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and other government departments, in responding effectively to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CSIR, in collaboration with WaterLab and the University of Pretoria, is testing wastewater, primary sludge and environmental water samples for COVID-19. Wastewater-based epidemiology can be used to monitor infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and other enteric viruses in communities.
The CSIR’s Coastal Systems Environmental Analytical Laboratory plays a pivotal role in water safety by providing essential analytical services to various levels of government, and industrial sectors. During South Africa’s lockdown, maintaining these services became a priority for keeping up stringent hygiene practices. CSIR researchers have worked throughout the lockdown to assist authorities in the Western Cape to ensure that the water that is provided to residents remains safe for drinking and use.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CSIR Microbiology and Parasitology Laboratory has screened many water samples for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and other infective viruses. Water samples were received from many of the country’s leading water utilities, as well as utilities from some neighbouring countries. Researchers have not detected any infective viruses in any of the drinking water samples that have been analysed to date.
The Department of Science and Innovation has formed a team of leading South African environmental scientists from a range of institutions to consider the environmental aspects of COVID-19. Researchers of the COVID-19 Environmental Reference Group look at weather, climate and air pollution effects to advise the epidemiological modelling group of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and other modelling groups.
COVID-19 in the South African winter