The national defence force and its command council is keeping cards close to chest as far as coronavirus is concerned.
Earlier this month the SA Air Force (SAAF) and SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Logistics Division said two buildings would be closed due to staff testing positive for the virus.
This is in direct contrast with the official line touted by the Directorate: Corporate Communications (DCC) of the SANDF.
In a belated response to a defenceWeb enquiry about reported coronavirus cases, testing and possible fatalities, the directorate (apparently following instruction from what is militarily termed “higher authority” in the defence force of democratic South Africa) said it works on National Department of Health (NDOH) protocols.
The DCC response states: “In keeping with health protocols on COVID-19 as gazetted through the National Disaster Management Act, suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases are treated and managed as per COVID-19 protocols. The National Department of Health (NDOH) protocols require all statistics of infections and or deaths as a result of COVID-19 are reported to relevant NDOH authorities”.
It adds “the SANDF continues to screen all members of the military community as per protocol. Health protocols determine the management of cases, if any”. It does not indicate how many airmen, military medics, sailors, soldiers or other musterings, including Public Service Act personnel, have been screened. The only possible reference to testing is “management of cases”.
Asked about quarantine facilities at military bases, DCC said mass quarantine and isolation facilities to manage coronavirus cases in the “military community including SANDF contingents deployed outside the country” have been identified.
“Quarantine and isolation facilities have been identified and established with accommodation capacity in all provinces and will be utilised for the military community. This is in preparation for any eventuality of an overflow in military hospitals and sickbays,” according to the SANDF communication corps.
Over a week ago, the DCC issued statements advising two buildings housing SANDF components would be closed for deep cleansing and decontamination following staff testing positive for coronavirus.
The affected buildings are Blenny, home to SAAF headquarters, and Petersen Bothgongo House, housing elements of the Logistics Division. Two SAAF staffers were said to have tested positive while no numbers were given for logistics.
There was, at the time of publication, no DCC statement on either or both facilities being re-opened.