Monday, 16 November 2020

Pretoria: Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has expressed concerns about the climbing number of COVID-19 cases in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape provinces.

Outlining the pandemic health response and South Africa’s readiness to deal with a possible resurgence on Sunday, Mkhize said his department is now watching the two provinces closely.

“This is to indicate now that we have started seeing a little increasing activity in the Eastern Cape and a little bit in the Western Cape,” he added.

However, he told the media that it could not be described as a new surge just yet.

“We’re basically, saying we’re observing these areas.”

Mkhize held a COVID-19 briefing outlining the health response to the pandemic and South Africa’s readiness to deal with a possible resurgence.

Resurgence plan

Government’s resurgence plan, working together with the World Health Organisation (WHO), involves heightening surveillance, intensifying resources and scaling up testing and contract tracing.

It also involves cases management, availability of beds, enabling quarantine and isolation, and managing hotspots.

Mkhize said he will be visiting the Eastern Cape and will announce further interventions as the Nelson Mandela Bay area is still in the red.

“The cluster outbreaks do not mean the whole country is going to go into a resurgence immediately if we manage it well,” he added.

Healthcare professionals

The Minister announced that 35 490 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19, while those admitted were 4 368.

Meanwhile, 338 lost their lives.

“May their souls rest in peace,” he expressed his condolences, adding that government is doing everything to protect healthcare workers.

Precaution

Mkhize said it was important to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as washing hands, sanitising, social distancing and wearing masks.

“It’s more important now as before,” he said, adding that the country needs a sustained behavioural change.

“We’re now seeing people showing fatigue and so on. It’s difficult to have enforcement of masks unless it’s a social mobilisation we’re doing.”

Government is also working on social behavioural campaigns to try encouraging people to keep safe during the festive season.

“The day to day festivities need to be done differently and it’s important to start gearing ourselves to a slightly different Christmas. I’m not talking about the lockdown, I’m talking about changing the way we do it so that we don’t go enjoy and end up with an infection.”

He also called on citizens to avoid super-spreader activities where people “cluster together” without any precautions.