President Ramaphosa praises the work of the COVID-19 Information Centre

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses staff at the COVID-19 Information Centre at the CSIR in Pretoria, 9 April 2020


President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday visited the national COVID-19 Information Centre, the data centre established to monitor and track the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country.


The centre, led by the Department of Health in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and its entity, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), provides near real-time analytics and dashboards on the coronavirus outbreak per province, district, local municipality and ward.


The centre, which is housed in a secure facility at the CSIR in Pretoria, provides a central situational awareness platform designed to give a single view of the reality of the spread of the coronavirus across the country.


The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, hosted the President at the centre. The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, accompanied the President on his visit.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has spread rapidly around the world, with more than 1 485 545 people already infected globally and over 87 000 people having lost their lives to date.


The health systems of many countries are under tremendous stress as they struggle to deal with the pandemic, making it vital for the spread of the virus to be contained.


On 23 March, President Ramaphosa announced a range of measures in response to the pandemic, including a three-week nationwide lockdown with tight restrictions on travel and movement from midnight on Thursday, 26 March to midnight on Thursday, 16 April.


The COVID-19 Information Centre is one of a number of projects the DSI is working on in support of the government's response to the pandemic.


Among the centre's capabilities is the CMORE app, a mobile visualisation platform used by community health workers to record screening data and symptoms in the field and transmit the information to the centre. The app enables a near-live display of the results of the work being conducted by the government's Household Screening and Testing Programme.


The data and insights generated by the centre provide significant input for decision-making by the National Coronavirus Command Council chaired by the President.


The President praised the work being done at the centre, as it produces detailed information not only on the spread of the virus but also on the availability of hospitals, hotels, lodges, boarding houses at schools, etc that can be used in the fight against the pandemic.


President Ramaphosa thanked the data analysts and other workers, who have been working up to 16 hours a day to collect data, as the country's unsung heroes in the fight against COVID-19.


The President also welcomed the involvement of telecoms service provider Vodacom, which donated 20 000 mobile devices to be used by the community health workers deployed to conduct the household screening for the virus. The mobile devices assist in digitising the screen time data which is used for real-time reporting.


Dr Nzimande, praising the CSIR for the work it was doing on the data platform, noted that "behind this platform is a set of competencies that include epidemiological modelling, data analytics, high-performance computing and data visualisation. These are important investments that the DSI has been making over a number of years to ensure that we have an innovation-enabled developmental state."


Deputy Minister Phaahla thanked the President for his visit, saying it was a huge motivation to the staff working at the centre. COVID-19 was a very real and serious enemy, Dr Phaahla said, and partnerships would be crucial for the country to win the war against it.



© 2021 Department of Science and Innovations . All Rights Reserved.