Department of Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has activated the National Disaster Relief Fund and set aside R96 million to provide immediate assistance to individuals and families affected by the coronavirus.
In adhering to President Cyril Ramaphosa's call prohibiting more than 100 people gathering in a single place, Zulu has ordered that there will be a staggering of pay dates.
Zulu has also referred more grant recipients to Post Offices to assist in minimising and mitigating the spread of the virus as these facilities become overcrowded during pay days.
Zulu has directed all social development, National Development Agency offices and Sassa pay points to remain operational during this period.
The department has suspended all external visits to child and youth care centres, drug rehabilitation and old-age centres, and shelters until further notice.
All large events and mass gatherings in the sector have been suspended with immediate effect.
Zulu has identified registered non-profit organisations to provide social services.
"All social service professionals will provide psycho-social care and support services to affected individuals and their families. They include trauma counselling, integration and re-unification of persons who have been isolated or quarantined to mitigate stigmatisation.
"We understand the huge inconvenience this will bring to parents or caregivers throughout the country because Early Childhood Development centres are safe places of care – in addition to education, children also receive protection, healthcare and nutrition. The protection of our children should remain uppermost during this period," said Zulu.
Zulu, who is part of the inter-ministerial committee tasked with tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, said working with the Department of Health and other key stakeholders must be in the forefront of national efforts to contain the further spread of the virus.
"Our efforts will be directed at ensuring we protect the most vulnerable – they will continue to require our services at this difficult time. While we do so, we must take all necessary precautionary measures to protect our staff and our clients, especially at access points in order to contain the spread of this contagious virus and to slow its spread," said Zulu.
She further urged all facilities to adhere to Occupation Health and Safety guidelines and to ensure that basic protective measures against the virus were provided.
"There is no doubt that the spread of Covid-19 will exacerbate the vulnerability of poor households and that it is likely to increase the demand for social services in the form of social grants, food relief and psycho-social services for affected individuals and families," said Zulu.