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Western Cape Government to plead with faith based organisations for drastic changes needed to combat second wave of Coronavirus COVID-19

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As part of the Western Cape Government’s whole of society approach, Cabinet resolved to have regular interactions with the Western Cape Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) and religious leaders on Covid-19 government interventions. Over these past months, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) has regularly met with the FBO network with the intention of improving and streamlining communication between government and citizens in the province.

The forum creates a platform where members can receive vetted information made available by the Western Cape Government and in many ways becomes a voice piece for the religious leaders and their constituencies to directly engage with government and ask the most relevant questions that relate to what communities/congregants are currently facing.

With the resurgence of positive cases in the province the IMC will again meet with the FBO network this evening to engage on the drastic actions needed to stop the spread of COVID-19, particularly at religious gatherings, which are proving to be super spreader events more often than not.

Chaired by Dr. Ivan Meyer and supported by Ministers Anroux Marais and Sharna Fernandez and Mr. Donald Grant, the engagement this evening will have Premier Alan Winde address the meeting in which Dr. Keith Cloete will present on the current trajectory of COVID-19 in the Western Cape and expectations for the months ahead. The key point on the agenda will be the severe strain our hospital system and essential workers are currently experiencing and to plead with our religious leaders to assist with the drastic actions needed to change behavior in their respective spaces to responsibly observe the coming festive season and annual traditional services.

Head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Faith Based Organisations, Minister Ivan Meyer said, “We believe that spiritual leaders offer unique insights into the social and spiritual wellbeing of our citizens. As crucial stakeholders in our provincial response to Covid-19, our religious leaders have been asking us the right questions and guiding us in many ways, to package information that is most practical at ground level. We appreciate their commitment, level of engagement and constant inputs they provide in helping us find innovative solutions where necessary. However, to keep safe and to save lives, we must do everything we can to limit our exposure to other people, even though we know this is extremely hard over what is normally our most social time of year”.

We all need to work together by changing our behavior to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. The Western Cape Government calls on everyone to focus on avoiding the 3 C’s: crowded spaces, close contact and confined and enclosed spaces, in addition to mask wearing and hand hygiene. We all need to play our part if we are to get through the peak of the second wave.

District Mayors from the various municipalities also form part of this platform and are encouraged by the FBO framework to establish similar forums within their respective districts. This will enable them to engage with spiritual leaders at local level, thus ensuring that information shared during these engagements cascades down to every citizen within the Western Cape. As we move into a more targeted Hotspot Strategy as a province, the use of the FBO leaders who are also champions at district level, becomes even more pivotal in establishing responsible behavioral change in these areas of higher transmissions.

We acknowledge the exceptional work done by these religious leaders during the Covid-19 and lockdown period, as we continue to engage in our joint efforts to combat this pandemic.

Issued by: Western Cape Office of the Premier

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