Mkhize announces drastic measures to track Covid-19 patients

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize. Picture: DIRCO
Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize. Picture: DIRCO

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced dramatic measures to ensure that those who have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus or who have come into contact with infected people are traced and tested.

The move comes as officials are struggling to trace some of the congregants who attended a church conference in the Free State recently, where five people tested positive for the virus.

Some of the congregants who attended the service at Define Restoration Ministries from March 9-14 were found to be untraceable and have been requested to approach the health department for testing.

“Those who test positive will be taken for treatment and isolated to make sure they are not infecting others. We need to flatten the curve to prevent the virus from expanding,” Mkhize said on Tuesday.

Failure to adhere to the measures by those who test positive or came in contact with those who’ve tested positive will result in their details being published.

By Tuesday morning, there were 554 confirmed cases in South Africa.

The countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease.
President Cyril Ramaphosa

There are some positive developments though: five people who had initially tested positive have now tested negative.

“There have been no deaths so far. Two people are now in ICU in private hospitals, and we expect this number to increase,” Mkhize said.

The minister was addressing the media of at the department of international relations and cooperation in Pretoria following the announcement of a lockdown which comes into effect at midnight on Thursday.

Ministers in the economic cluster also revealed plans to cushion the economy.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said his department was working on several programmes and interventions that will be finalised soon.

Patel said the measures were aimed at ensuring that there was continued economic activity to ensure continued food supply.

He said government will be publishing guidelines in the Government Gazette on Wednesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown on Monday.

“The countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease,” he said.

As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days.

He said while the measure would have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods and the economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.

The nation-wide lockdown would be implemented in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following:

  • From midnight on Thursday March 26 until midnight on Thursday April 16, all South Africans will have to stay at home.
  • The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.

It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products. A full list of essential personnel will be published.

  • Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
  • Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.
  • All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and healthcare facilities.

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