Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Gauteng
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the GCRO is working quickly and collaboratively to compile data and visualisations to inform disaster response planning. We are focussing on the spatial distribution of some key risks and vulnerabilities in communities at a ward level based on the framework of syndemics which examines the consequences of epidemics as they interact with other diseases, in conjunction with social, environmental and economic factors that both facilitate their spread, and in turn compound their impact. See here and here for useful articles that explain this framework.
As an initial response GCRO dedicated its March 2020 Map of the Month to understanding the localised risk factors that might contribute to the spread of COVID-19, and might amplify its health and socio-economic impact, in Gauteng communities. Specifically, the maps explored two key themes: (1) the multiple risk factors to maintaining basic preventative hygiene and social distancing; and (2) the multiple risk factors in the context of major shutdowns and potential outbreaks.
The work continues beyond this Map of the Month publication. We hope to deepen our analysis by exploring the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 through indicators such as mental health, access to transport and amenities, and clinical data such as hospital beds and critical care beds in relation to population density. Additional work may examine vulnerabilities and the intersection of gender and age.
A key part of this project will be to collaborate with our government partners and other key stakeholders such as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and research organisations like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Following a delay, data collection for the sixth iteration of the GCRO’s flagship Quality of Life survey (QoL VI) is underway. With strict COVID-19 safety protocols in place, GeoSpace International fieldworkers are conducting interviews with randomly sampled respondents across Gauteng. This iteration of the survey includes questions on the impact of COVID-19 on respondents’ lives and ee are interviewing 13 500 respondents, across all wards in Gauteng province. If there are no further interruptions, we anticipate that data collection will be completed in April 2021.
As with the spread of the virus, this is a rapidly evolving project and we will be posting updates here as and when they are available.
GCRO's COVID-19 outputs to date
COVID-19 in children and adolescents in Gauteng (11 December 2020)
Globally, preliminary data on COVID-19 suggests that children and adolescents (0-19 years) typically comprise a small fraction of recorded cases, and are less likely to get seriously ill or die. Between 06 March and 27 October 2020, children and adolescents constituted 8% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Gauteng, with 17-19 year-olds contributing the largest share (29%) of cases among the 0-19 year-olds. The total number of COVID-19 cases amongst those aged 0-19 years is proportionately much lower than for the adult population. However, the proportion of child and adolescent cases increased from the end of lockdown level 3, suggesting an increasing risk as restrictions eased.
Johannesburg and its epidemics: Can we learn from history? (2 December 2020)
Covid-19 has massively disrupted life globally and locally, bringing many uncertainties in its wake. It is not, however, the first epidemic to pummel the world or our own country, region and city, raising the question of what we can learn from history. In the case of Johannesburg, epidemics have included: smallpox in 1893; measles in the internment camps of 1901/02; pneumonic plague in 1904; influenza in 1918/19; poliomyelitis in various outbreaks between 1918 and 1957; scarlet fever in outbreaks between 1917 and 1941; and HIV/Aids from the late 1980s. This is in addition to lesser epidemics such as influenza in 1957 and listeriosis in 2018. Download the occasional paper here.
The impact of COVID-19 on long term care facilities (30 September 2020)
For those who live in long term care facilities the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly devastating. For the September Map of the Month we explore the impacts on long term care facilities in Gauteng by mapping the known cases in retirement villages, rehabilitation centres and specialised facilities for people with mental and physical disabilities.
Women and COVID-19 in Gauteng (31 August 2020)
This story map draws on the infection data from the Gauteng Department of Health (6 March - 7 August 2020) and GCRO’s March 2020 COVID-19 vulnerability indices based on Quality of Life V (2017/18) survey data, to understand the ways in which women may be more vulnerable than men to COVID-19. We also explore some of the implications for this gender bias in the number of positive cases. Download this Data Insight for more detailed analysis and charts.
Change in exponential growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa and Gauteng (24 August 2020)
This visualisation shows how the growth rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases has changed over time in the provinces of South Africa and districts in Gauteng. As the first COVID-19 cases were recorded in South Africa, growth was exponential, but the rate of growth has deviated from exponential growth for certain periods of time, like during lockdown level 5.
Household characteristics in relation to COVID-19 risks in Gauteng (30 June 2020)
In the context of COVID-19, different household characteristics are likely to influence exposure to various factors which might increase vulnerability to aspects of the pandemic. This visualisation explores the relationships between various household characteristics and exposure to a range of factors that are expected to impact vulnerability in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Data Insight provides more detail of the risk factors for each of the household characteristics explored here.
De-densifying Gauteng: A thought experiment (29 May 2020)
As we come to grips with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, urban population density is being fiercely debated. In our May Map of the Month we engaged in this debate first with a 3D population density map of Gauteng, using modelled population estimates. Second, we consider some of the benefits and drawbacks of high density settlements in the context of COVID-19 as well as the task of lowering the peak densities in the province. We have developed an interactive visualisation to give some sense of the size of the de-densification task in Gauteng, if it was to be pursued. This interactive visualisation represents a thought experiment and an attempt to understand the relationship between density, population size and land area. The visualisation demonstrates that ‘lowering the peaks of density’ would be an enormous, if not impossible, undertaking.
Gauteng's elderly in the context of COVID-19 (17 April 2020)
In light of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the elderly, this interactive visualisation uses data from our Quality of Life V survey (2017/18) to better understand the lives of the elderly in Gauteng province. In particular, we look at how the elderly form parts of families and households, and fulfill key caregiving and economic roles in the province. South Africa’s apartheid history has left Gauteng, and South Africa, with substantially different population-age structures for different population groups.
Income vulnerability in Gauteng (21 April 2020)
Using the GCRO's Quality of Life V data, this interactive visualisation looks at the various forms of income that people depend on to sustain themselves in Gauteng.
Households vulnerable to income disruption (6 April 2020)
Disruptions in household income flows due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown pose serious risks - both to individuals and households, but also to the effectiveness of the lockdown itself. When income flows are severely disrupted, household members may experience a reduction in food, interruptions to the management of chronic disease, and acute stress, increasing vulnerability to infectious disease. In this Insight, we look at household income streams and highlight those income types most likely to be disrupted. This Insight has been published as a single PDF document.
Challenges in accessing food during a lockdown (6 April 2020)
The current implementation of a lockdown has created a number of additional challenges for many households in accessing adequate food. In this Insight, we consider the difficulties that people experience to physically get to a retailer to purchase uncooked food, and then store perishable items. This Insight has been published as a single PDF document.
COVID-19 cases in South Africa by province (31 March 2020)
This interactive visualisation tracks the number of confirmed positive cases in South Africa per province, as reported by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
COVID-19 risk indices per municipality and metropolitan municipality planning region (6 April 2020)
GCRO has developed some analysis to help understand COVID-19-related risks at different geographic scales. The purpose of this Insight is (1) to present different COVID-19 risk levels at the municipal level in Gauteng, and (2) between the different planning regions in the three metros (Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, and Tshwane). This could help each metro to further understand and prioritise COVID-19 responses in terms of where efforts can be focused and what types of efforts might be required. This Insight has been published as a single PDF document.
Relating COVID-19 risk indices to population density in Gauteng (2 April 2020)
The March 2020 Map of the Month considered household crowding as one of the variables in the indices of risk factors, but the publication did not explore the influence of population density in detail. Population density beyond the household level will have a critical influence on the management of COVID-19 pandemic because it has a particularly significant impact on one’s ability to maintain adequate social distance and provide suitable assistance to residents, like providing enough medical care and keeping basic services working. These data visualisations examine how population density in Gauteng might affect strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and assess how population density influences vulnerability to the health and social impacts during the pandemic and broader shut down in the province.
Accompanying these data visualisations are:
- Excel spreadsheet of the ward-level data of the risk indices and population density;
- PDF of Map 1 (Index of risk factors to maintaining social distance and preventative hygiene related to population density per ward in Gauteng);
- PDF of Map 2 (Index of risk factors to health and social vulnerability related to population density per ward in Gauteng);
- PDF of Map 3 (The 100 most at risk wards related to where 50% of the Gauteng population live).
Mapping vulnerability to COVID-19 in Gauteng (20 March 2020)
The March 2020 Map of the Month was dedicated to understanding the localised risk factors that might contribute to the spread of COVID-19, and might amplify its health and socio-economic impact, in Gauteng communities.
Here are a number of resources associated with this output:
- Additional material to the March 2020 Map of the Month Mapping vulnerability to COVID-19 in Gauteng, including detail maps and technical notes;
- Excel spreadsheet of the ward-level data used to map the two vulnerability indexes in the March 2020 Map of the Month;
- Excel spreadsheet of the ward-level data of preexisting health conditions from GCRO QoL V (2017/18) survey;
- KMZ file of the ward-level data for Index 1 - Vulnerability to social distancing and preventative hygiene;
- KMZ file of the ward-level data for Index 2 - Health and social vulnerability in the event of an outbreak or shutdown.
Seminar series: Collecting social data: adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic (July to October 2020)
The Gauteng City-Region Observatory, in collaboration with Social Surveys Africa and the Human Sciences Research Council, hosted a seven-part online seminar series on adapting social data collection practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The series started in July 2020, and ran through to October 2020. This seminar series brought together social researchers from a range of disciplines to explore different approaches to collecting social data during the COVID pandemic. It provided an opportunity for researchers to share learnings and innovations with a diverse audience, discuss challenges with colleagues with different backgrounds, and contributed to the collective strengthening of social research during this unique and challenging time.
Presentation materials and links to recordings for each seminar are available for download here.
Direct support to government
In addition to work on its own research outputs, GCRO has been asked to provide support to various government-led responses to the crisis. This work has included the following:
- On request from the Office of the Premier, GCRO has been working to try connect decision-making in the Gauteng COVID-19 Command Centre with various processes of localised spread mapping and modelling.
- GCRO was asked by the Solidarity Fund to support the targeting of its national food distribution efforts by mapping: high priority wards across the country based on an index of multiple deprivation; the presence of civil society organisations potentially involved in food distribution; and therefore gaps in coverage of key areas of need.
- The City of Johannesburg's Department of Development Planning also asked GCRO for mapped data on its index of vulnerability to the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown in order to help target the City's own distribution of food parcels.
Additional GCRO Resources
The Quality of Life V survey (2017/18) is a valuable data source for much of our analysis. The dataset is freely available for non-commercial purposes and can be downloaded from UCT's DataFirst platform or requested directly from the GCRO by sending an email to Dr Julia de Kadt (email@example.com) and Yashena Naidoo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A spreadsheet of data sources compiled by the SDG Hub at the University of Pretoria.
Data and mapping coordination:
Data dashboards and visualisations in South Africa:
- Corona Map
- Data Science for Social Impact Research Group
- NRF & SAEON
- Media Hack
- Michael Rademeyer & Tauhir Jardine (A2D24)
- University of the Witwatersrand
Christina Culwick Fatti (November 2020). Panelist 'The recovery of the Public Transport Sector post the COVID-19 pandemic: Climate change and sustainability - the role of public transport in realising a greener future', Gautrain Public Transport Knowledge Seminar 2020, virtual webinar, 11 November 2020.
Rob Moore and Graeme Gotz (October 2020). 'Achieving Common Purpose: Adaptive Governance in the Pandemic'. Gauteng Provincial Government internal reflection workshop on the COVID-19 response, 23 October 2020.
Rob Moore and Graeme Gotz (October 2020). 'Achieving Common Purpose: Adaptive Governance in the Pandemic'. Governing the pandemic in large cities: From BRICS and beyond symposium, 22 October 2020.
Graeme Gotz and Gillian Maree (October 2020). 'Data governance and government through data in responding to COVID-19: Insights from the Gauteng City-Region'. Governing the pandemic in large cities: From BRICS and beyond symposium, 22 October 2020.
Rob Moore and Graeme Gotz (October 2020). 'Achieving Common Purpose: Adaptive Governance in the Pandemic'. Gauteng Provincial Government case study on COVID-19 response researchers' symposium, 8 October 2020.
Gillian Maree and Graeme Gotz (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (September 2020). "Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights - what we do and don’t know", Presentation to the Department of Social Development, 28 September 2020.
Gillian Maree and Graeme Gotz (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (September 2020) "Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights - what we do and don’t know", Presentation to the GCR Webinar on the role of data during and post COVID-19, 9 September 2020.
Gillian Maree (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (September 2020), 'Using QoL Data to Respond to the COVID Pandemic in Gauteng', presentation at Southern Africa City Study Conference 2020, 3 September 2020.
Gillian Maree and Graeme Gotz (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (September 2019). 'Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights - what we do and don’t know', Premier's Advisory Committee on COVID, 7 September 2020.
Gillian Maree (August 2020). "Responding to the COVID-19 in the GCR" presentation at the Southern African City Studies Conference Panel on COVID-19: Re-shaping Gauteng and its governance, 31 August 2020.
Christina Culwick (August 2020). 'Debates on the relationship between COVID spread and density', Southern Africa City Studies Conference, 31 August 2020.
Rob Moore (August 2020). 'Adaptive governance in the pandemic: intentions and effects'. Southern Africa City Studies Conference, 31 August 2020.
Gillian Maree, Graeme Gotz and Alexandra Parker (August 2020). 'Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights', GTAC seminar, 20 August 2020.
Rob Moore, Gillian Maree, Richard Ballard and Jesse Harber (August 2020). The Spatial Impact of COVID-19 and the Public Transport Response. Presentation to the Gautrain Management Authority Strategic Board Lekgotla. Johannesburg, 19 August 2020.
Gillian Maree (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (August 2019). 'Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights', Gauteng Provincial Command Centre Media Briefing, 13 August 2020.
Gillian Maree and Graeme Gotz (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (August 2019). 'Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights - what we do and don’t know', Gauteng Provincial Government Special Executive Council (EXCO), 12 August 2020.
Graeme Gotz and Alexandra Parker (August 2020). 'Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights', GPG command council, 6 August 2020.
Rob Moore, Julia de Kadt and Alexandra Parker (August 2020) 'Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Gauteng', Urban Observatories And COVID-19 webinars, 3 & 6 August 2020.
Gillian Maree, Graeme Gotz and Alexandra Parker (July 2020) 'Responding to COVID-19 in the GCR: Data insights', COVID-19 Modelling Webinar Series, 29 July 2020.
Graeme Gotz and Gillian Maree (on behalf of GCRO COVID-19 team) (July 2019). 'COVID-19: Insights from infection data in Gauteng', Gauteng COVID0-19 Command Centre (Warroom), 9 July 2020.
Gillian Maree (July 2020). ' The Spatial Distribution of Risks and Vulnerabilities: The GCRO Covid-19 Gauteng Map', Presentation to the UKZN Centre for Civil Society Webinar, 1 July 2020.
Gillian Maree (June 2020). 'Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: GCRO research outputs', presentation to Gauteng Together, 9 June 2020.
Alexandra Parker on behalf of the team (March 2020). 'Mapping vulnerability to Covid-19', GPG EXCO meeting, GPG Offices, 23 March 2020.
GCRO's research on the elderly and COVID-19 is cited in an article 'Nearly 85,000 older South Africans have probably died from Covid-19' written by James Stent, The Daily Maverick, 25 January 2021.
GCRO's involvement in the Gauteng COVID-19 dashboard with IBM is mentioned in an article 'Developing Covid-19 hotspot areas in east', by Noxolo Sibiya, Pretoria Rekord, 13 January 2021.
Alexandra Parker, Gillian Maree, Graeme Gotz, and Samkelisiwe Khanyile published on op-ed 'How COVID-19 puts women at more risk than men in Gauteng, South Africa', The Conversation Africa, 21 December 2020 which received over 100 000 reads. A number of media interviews followed from this publication: Alexandra Parker was interviewed on Newzroom Afrika on 25 December 2020, ENCA and SAFM on 5 January 2021, and 702 and CapeTalk Radio on 21 January 2021. Graeme Gotz was interviewed on PowerFM on 15 January 2021.
Alexandra Parker was interviewed on Newzroom Afrika on household vulnerabilities and COVID-19, 11 August 2020.
Alexandra Parker and Julia de Kadt published an op-ed with The Conversation Africa titled 'Close look at some South African households gives insights into COVID-19 vulnerability' on 5 August 2020 republished on Eyewitness News.
The article 'Gauteng Covid-19 visualisation platform enables monitoring, prediction' by Schalk Burger in Creamer's Engineering News highlights GCRO’s collaborative work with Gauteng Provincial Government, IBM and WIts University on a live interactive COVID-19 dashboard, 7 July 2020.
Alexandra Parker was interviewed on eNCA on Friday 3 July 2020 in connection with the March 2020 Map of the Month Mapping vulnerability to COVID-19 in Gauteng.
GCRO’s collaborative work with Gauteng Provincial Government, IBM and WIts University on a live interactive COVID-19 dashboard is featured in an interview for IT News Africa ‘INTERVIEW: How IBM and WITS are Enabling Data-Driven Decisions to Flatten the COVID-19 Curve’ written by Jenna Delport, 2 July 2020.
GCRO’s research on Households vulnerable to income disruption and Income vulnerability in Gauteng in relation to COVID-19 was featured in an article ‘As Covid-19 explodes in Gauteng, Dlamini Zuma must make Lockdown 2.0 decision’ by Ferial Haffajee in Daily Maverick on 2 July 2020.
GCRO’s visualisation on Gauteng’s elderly was mentioned in an article for the Daily Maverick “Now we are all Swedes: Covid-19, eugenics and sacrificing the ‘older older’; by Steven Robins on 10 June 2020 and in an article for Health-e News ‘CoronavirusSA: Household members a massive risk to each other’ by Bibi-Aisha Wadvalla on 24 June 2020.
Christina Culwick was interviewed about the May Map of the Month 'De-densifying Gauteng' on Kaya FM (29 May 2020) and Voice of Wits (2 June 2020).
GCRO's analysis on income vulnerability in relation to COVID-19 was mentioned in an article 'Olievenhoutbosch's most vulnerable hit hard by Covid-19 lockdown' by Belinda Pheto in the Sunday Times, 10 May 2020.
The analysis on the elderly in Gauteng was featured in an article '"They can’t survive if I die": Stalwart gogos fear for their families', in the Sunday Times, by Graeme Hosken on 10 May 2020.
Julia de Kadt published an op-ed on data during the COVID-19 pandemic titled 'COVID-19 highlights South Africa’s need for local level social data', The Conversation Africa, on 11 May 2020.
Alexandra Parker and Julia de Kadt published an op-ed on Gauteng's elderly with The Conversation Africa titled 'Our research shows why it’s vital to protect older South Africans from coronavirus' on 26 April 202 which led to other republications and an interview with Azania Mosaka on 702 Talk Radio on 27 April 2020, available here.
GCRO's insight on 'Households vulnerable to income disruption' related to COVID-19 was featured in 'Income cuts pose serious threat to lockdown' by Sheree Bega, published on 13 April 2020 in the Saturday Star.
Analysis on COVID-19, initially published in GCRO's March 2020 Map of the Month, Mapping vulnerability to COVID-19 in Gauteng, is featured in several publications including the front page of The Saturday Star; Eyewitness News and the Daily Maverick. Related to this work Graeme Gotz was interviewed on NewzroomAfrika with Stephen Grootes and Gillian Maree was interviewed on SABC radio news, both on 25 March 2020.
Academic papers citing GCRO's COVID-19 research
de V Castelyn, C., Viljoen, I. M., Dhai, A., & Pepper, M. S. (2020). Resource allocation during COVID-19: A focus on vulnerable populations. South African Journal of Bioethics and Law, 13 (1).
Franch-Pardo, I., Napoletano, B. M., Rosete-Verges, F., & Billa, L. (2020). Spatial analysis and GIS in the study of COVID-19. A review. Science of The Total Environment, 140033.
Gibson, L., & Rush, D. (2020). Novel Coronavirus in Cape Town Informal Settlements: Feasibility of Using Informal Dwelling Outlines to Identify High Risk Areas for COVID-19 Transmission From A Social Distancing Perspective. JMIR public health and surveillance, 6(2), e18844. https://doi.org/10.2196/18844
Last updated: 4 February 2021.