Early estimates suggest an outbreak of avian influenza has led to production losses of around R800-million in the Western Cape, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said on Monday.
In a statement, Winde said there were at least 36 confirmed cases of avian flu. Seventy ostrich farms were under quarantine and more than two million birds had either died or been culled.
“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area. In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs,” said Winde.
“In the Western Cape, the outbreak has hit the Paardeberg area, the region with the highest concentration of poultry farms.”
The MEC said a joint operations centre (JOC) has been established to respond to the outbreak and a recovery plan, involving various stakeholders, is being put into effect.
Environmental Affairs, Local Government and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the provincial disaster management centre (PDMC) was assisting in “managing the crisis”.
“A big part of what we’re busy with currently includes looking after the wellbeing of affected farmworkers. In this regard, the departments of Social Development together with DOA are leading the process. SASSA and Labour are also on board,” said Bredell.
“In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Waste Management Unit is ensuring the safe disposal of carcasses on affected farms. These are some of the major initiatives at the moment.”
The JOC would request the National Disaster Management Centre to declare the outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu a provincial disaster.
In addition, the JOC would also facilitate a process of getting financial and training schemes in place to assist workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak.