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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 post this map. 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.

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).

Currently, fieldwork for the Quality of Life VI (2020) survey has been put on hold but once it is safe to begin, we will be including questions on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown.

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.


De Kadt, J., Gotz, G., Hamann, C., Maree, G., and Parker, A. (2020) Mapping vulnerability to COVID-19 in Gauteng, GCRO Map of the Month, Gauteng City-Region Observatory, March 2020.

GCRO Resources

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.

The Quality of Life V survey (2017/18) is a valuable data source for much of our analysis. The dataset is available for download on UCT's DataFirst platform or it can be requested from the GCRO by sending an email to Dr Julia de Kadt ( and Yashena Naidoo (

External Resources

A spreadsheet of data sources compiled by the SDG Hub at the University of Pretoria.

Data and mapping coordination: SDG Hub at the University of Pretoria; and Data Science for Social Impact Research Group.

Data dashboards and visualisations in South Africa: Coronapp; Corona Map; Data Science for Social Impact Research Group; Media Hack; University of the Witwatersrand.


The GCRO sends out regular news to update subscribers on our research and events.