Mkhize impressed by swift Covid-19 response of Eastern Cape leadership


Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is impressed with the renovations that have taken place at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in East London, Eastern Cape.

This follows his visit to the hospital two weeks ago, during which he expressed concern over the readiness of its infrastructure.

But on his return to the hospital in Mdantsane on Monday, the minister expressed his happiness after being taken on a tour of the facility following a lengthy meeting with the province’s bosses in East London.

“I was here about two weeks ago to look at the issue of preparedness for the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Among the areas we were focusing on, we were concerned about the issue of the rolling out of infrastructure to be able to assist in case management when the numbers start increasing,” said Mkhize.

I am pleased to say that I have been shown around and I am impressed that there have been renovations that have been done.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize

“Chief among the issues we were focusing on was to flatten the curve and also to buy a bit of time to open up the space so that our health system could actually begin to accommodate some of the pressure that we expect.”

He added that there were concerns on whether there would be enough time to complete renovations.

“I am pleased to say that I have been shown around and I am impressed that there have been renovations that have been done, which have taken about two weeks, and there have been more of these feed hospitals that have been created,” he said.

Mkhize said they wanted to demonstrate to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government that infrastructure operation was on course.

“I have seen here that there are additional beds that have been put in place. Secondly, we had discussed a number of other issues with [Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba], [Premier Oscar Mabuyane] as well as heads of departments, so today we came to have a look at the progress,” he said.

The minister said after meeting with the province’s top brass he was convinced that the province was on top of its game and was doing its best to respond as expected.

On the issue of getting additional human resources, Mkhize said he received a report from Gomba that the province had employed 800 nurses in the past two weeks and was on course to finalise the employment of a number of additional doctors.

It’s important for people to know that the fight against Covid-19 is a community fight.
Zweli Mkhize

He said in their discussion with the provincial leaders concerns were raised about the rapid spread of Covid-19 infections in the Eastern Cape.

“We are all watching the numbers and we think this is a matter that we must give additional attention to. In our discussion with the premier, it was brought to our attention that the proximity to the Western Cape meant that the two provinces were operating more or less like an ecosystem where the numbers were showing a trend in which the increases were at an upward trajectory,” he said.

Mkhize said the province was now focusing on strengthening its containment of the virus on community level, adding that social activities – especially funerals, for which people travel between the neighbouring Capes – were the main impediment to effective containment.

The province says it has 138 “imported cases” from the Western Cape, which were confirmed by tests done at the Aberdeen and Tsitsikamma borders into the Eastern Cape.

As of Monday night, there were 1 356 confirmed cases in the Eastern Cape, most of which were in Nelson Mandela Bay, which had 532 cases and eight deaths.

“It’s important for people to know that the fight against Covid-19 is a community fight. It’s about keeping the community safe and protecting all members of the community from getting infected. It’s also fighting the stigma that our people must not discriminate against anyone who is infected. It’s important that people must not run away or hide the information when they are positive so that they can be assisted,” said Mkhize.

Ramaphosa is due to visit the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on Thursday.

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