Telkom ramps up measures in anticipation of coronavirus lockdown

A shopper walks past a Telkom shop at a mall in Johannesburg. The company has announced plans to combat the coronavirus.
A shopper walks past a Telkom shop at a mall in Johannesburg. The company has announced plans to combat the coronavirus.
Image: REUTERS/SIPHIEW SEBEKO

Network operator Telkom has announced pump R15m to bolster the country's primary healthcare in the battle against Covid-19.

The company's chief executive Sipho Maseko said the funds will be utilised to support healthcare workers who are at the frontline of the battle against the spread of the highly infectious and deadly disease.

The decision by Telkom forms part of a string of measures the fixed and mobile telecoms firm rolled out to combat the virus. The JSE-listed Telkom also announced its employees would this month be paid their salaries earlier in order for them to prepare for a possible lockdown.

The company also announced it would limit non-essential travel, physical contact and gatherings, introduce screening at all its  premises and testing for its employees.

In addition, Telkom will introduce zero-rating of educational websites with an aim to support learning and teaching.

Members of the public will also access National Institute for Communicable Diseases and government's coronavirus website freely to inhibit people from obtaining accurate information for infection control.

There have been some fake news about the coronavirus with inaccurate reporting that has sent members of the public in frenzy and panic, hence the government's website to give out accurate information about the virus.

Telkom has also pledged R15m to bolster the country's primary healthcare in the battle against Covid-19.

The measures by the network operator come as President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to brief the nation on Monday evening after the number of people with coronavirus infection on Monday went past 400.

This raised fears that Ramaphosa could announce that the country, which is in a state of national disaster, would be in state of emergency. The move could see the SA National Defence Force playing a critical role to monitor the situation.

On Monday, a number of soldiers were seen moving around Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg. Said Telkom in the media statement: "Telkom's uppermost concern is the health and safety of its employees while it continues to deliver seamless connectivity to the country.

As we implement ways to ensure social distancing in our environments, Telkom's frontline operations remain stable. Call centres, data centres, [and] fibre installations are being supported to protect the resilience of our network, provide connectivity to our customers and South Africa."

The company will continue to provide broadband services for homes, businesses and public institutions. Group chief executive Sipho Maseko said: "Our significant investment in modernising the network including fibre backhaul gives us comfort in the resilliance of our network to support the increases in broadband that we anticipate during this time.

"We have good, quality monitoring tools that enable efficicent network monitoring and management and we can therefore continue to deliver quality service as the traffic increases.

"Telkom's mobile footprint capacity has been improved with new sites and increased radio capacity on exisitng sites that require it. Our supply chain remains steady and our assessment does not indicate any business interruption in the short-to-medium term.

"We are working with the government and the department of health to make sure that we have the most updated information available and can adapt to this  ever-changing situation."

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