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South Africa sets up Covid-19 data hub

Data platform will inform national decision-making, says science minister

South Africa has established a hub for Covid-19 data to inform national decision-making, guided by the Department of Science and Innovation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Science and higher education minister Blade Nzimande mentioned the initiative when briefing the media about his department’s contribution to the national Covid-19 response on 28 March.

“The core of the platform is health data but over time, we intend to integrate the system with other types of data to provide a more robust platform that can provide holistic decision support to the National Command Centre,” said Nzimande.

The platform will contain data about geographic spread, current cases, health vulnerabilities, and local health issues.

Nzimande said work has started on a continental data collaboration for the pandemic and that researchers at the University of Pretoria have begun to “mobilise continent-wide networks to build databases on Covid-19 cases”. Nzimande added that data from the private sector will also form part of the hub.

Last week the Human Sciences Research Council announced that it will conduct a survey about South Africans’ behavioural patterns and attitudes to Covid-19. Nzimande said 2,400 people have already completed the survey.

He added that the data will form part of a “system of dynamic updates on behaviour and perception issues” that will be run by the HSRC and continually updated.