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ICASA steps up fight against spread of COVID-19

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ICASA CEO Willington Ngwepe.
ICASA CEO Willington Ngwepe.

Telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) says it is reviewing its day-to-day processes, amid the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

South Africa’s health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in a statement this morning, announced the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in SA has increased.

The Department of Health has confirmed the number coronavirus cases in the country now sits at 116, an increase of 31 new cases from yesterday’s announcement of 85. At the time of publishing, globally there were over 200 000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 8 229 deaths and 82 866 recoveries. The virus has spread to 159 countries/territories.

In a statement, ICASA says in view of president Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on 15 March, it has activated the crisis management initiatives as required by the organisation’s business continuity policy, to ensure its preparedness to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The telecoms regulator indicates it has made numerous decisions in relation to travel, public hearings, and visits to the ICASA premises.

On the issue of public hearings, all have been suspended, with ICASA saying it will continue to monitor and assess the situation in the four weeks cycle.

“All applications and equipment that accompany applications for type-approval will not be accepted from individuals. Applicants are, therefore, requested not to send any equipment to ICASA, when the need arises for equipment to be submitted, the applicant will be informed by an ICASA official to submit.

“Applicants can make use of our online service to submit type-approval applications. All other applications such as the expected pre-registrations for community broadcasting services have been extended from 31 March 2020 to 30 April 2020.”

Turning to visits, ICASA says local and international visits to its premises have been suspended until further notice, including customer walk-ins.

“We are reducing face-to-face meetings by encouraging the use of telephones, email correspondence and video teleconferencing in lieu of in-person gatherings, particularly for meetings with clients or stakeholders.”

The authority has requested all consumer-related queries to be sent to consumer@icasa.org.za, while all other enquiries are sent to info@icasa.org.za.

On travel, the council of ICASA has taken the decision to suspend all forms of international and domestic travel from the 17 March 2020 to 17 April 2020. “All essential domestic air travel to be undertaken will be dealt with on a case to case basis.

“All employees who have travelled and entered South Africa from high risk countries since mid-February have been asked to present themselves for testing.”

ICASA CEO Willington Ngwepe adds: “We are cognisant of the fact that the spread of the virus will have an effect on our business.

“However, ICASA is in full support of government initiatives in curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic; but we will endeavour to adhere to our turnaround times as contemplated in our respective divisional standard operating procedures. Any other delays will be communicated on time to our respective stakeholders.”

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