Coronavirus: Stay where you are, says health minister as SA's cases rise to 709

2020-03-25 10:19
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24)

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South Africa now has 709 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said in an interview on SABC News on Wednesday.

This is a 28% increase in cases since Tuesday.

LIVE | SA hits 709 coronavirus cases: no fatalities but 2 patients in ICU

At least 50 new positive coronavirus cases have been registered from a church in the Free State, Mkhize said.

He added the spike in the Free State was all linked to the Jerusalem prayer breakfast, hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein.

Five Covid-19 positive tourists from the US, Israel and France attended the breakfast.

Mkhize said the health department was still looking for 300 people who attended the service and who had contact with the tourists.

Among those who had attended the service, were ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, ACDP MP Steve Swart and well-known pastor Angus Buchan. All three have indicated that they have undergone testing.

The minister urged people not to travel during the Easter weekend. "You need to be in the same location over this three-week period," Mkhize said.

More local transmissions

The national lockdown, which will commence at 23:59 on Thursday, is not about the movement of cars, it's about stopping the mixing of people to reduce the number of infections, Mkhize said.

The tendency has changed from imported coronavirus cases to local transmission. This is why the lockdown is important, said Mkhize.

Local transmission means that a patient contracted Covid-19 without having travelled internationally or having contact with someone who travelled abroad.

However, no fatalities have been reported as yet. In addition, all patients are improving, and only two are in intensive care in private hospitals, Mkhize said.

READ | Coronavirus national lockdown 101: What you need to know

He said three doctors have to date tested positive for Covid-19 in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

Mkhize added the majority of people who contract Covid-19 won't need to be hospitalised, but can recover at home. "As long as the doctor is satisfied that the patient can successfully self-isolate."

The minister said most people who have received treatment for Covid-19, have recovered.

"The number who have improved is a lot, a lot of them are recovering. We remain conservative about releasing the exact numbers, though."

Mkhize said while there is no cure for the virus, treatment is focused on the symptoms.

'Exercise restraint'

Taking your dog for a walk and going to the shops to buy food and essentials should be fine, the minister said.

"We want to avoid people congregating in large numbers, as well as panic buying. We ask people to exercise restraint, even with people in your own house."

People should self-isolate and not see the lockdown as a 21-day holiday, Mkhize said. "The lockdown is to avoid people mixing in large numbers."

Mkhize said the department will be releasing measures that will clarify what people may or may not do in terms of personal movement. 

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Read more on:    zweli mkhize  |  coronavirus  |  healthcare
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