Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Pretoria: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has called on congregants who attended The Divine Restoration Church Ministries church conference in the Free State earlier this month, to present themselves to the provincial Health Department in a bid to trace the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

The call comes after five international travellers who attended the conference from the 9th to the 14th of March 2020 tested positive for Coronavirus.

The Minister made the call on Tuesday at an inter-ministerial briefing on government’s interventions to fight the spread of COVID-19.

During the briefing, the Minister also announced that as of Tuesday South Africa has 554 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is an increase of 152 new cases from Monday’s announcement.

The inter-ministerial briefing followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s televised address to the nation on Monday night where he announced a nationwide lockdown as part of efforts to curb the rapid spread of the Coronavirus in the country.

In a search to track down the patients, the Minister announced the name of the church emphasising that this had to be done to ensure that potential cases are traced and tested.

While there is an ethical obligation not to disclose patient information, Mkhize said with the outbreak of the virus in the country, government will make use of empowering legislation to ensure effective contact tracing.

“We would like to request all those who were part of that gathering to come forth and contact the Department of Health in the Free State so that they can be assisted and we can therefore test them.

“We really want to make this as a public call. The regulations really do allow us at a certain point that if an individual does not come forth and has been a contact and we think his situation might pose a risk, we can actually publish the name,” he said.

Status of COVID-19 cases

Providing an update on confirmed cases in the country, the Minister said many are asymptomatic and in good condition with exception of two cases who are in intensive care units at private hospitals.

Take your flu vaccine

With the change of season coming and temperatures set to drop, the Minister encouraged the public to take the flu vaccine to minimise the impact and boost their immune systems.