Mkhize: We dare not be complacent with Covid-19

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GCIS
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GCIS

The nationwide lockdown owing to the Covid-19 coronavirus may have stopped the importation of the virus and slowed down the rate of internal transmission, but South Africa dare not be complacent in its fight against the spread of the deadly disease.

This is according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who held a media briefing this afternoon to update the nation on the department’s efforts in curbing the spread of the virus.

To date, the country has 2 003 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 24 deaths.

However, Mkhize said these numbers did not point to an explosion of the outbreak in the country.

He lauded the work of the country’s healthcare workers, whom he said were fighting the outbreak in a heroic way as there have been 410 recoveries.

The new culture going forward should be no hugs, no kissing, no shaking of hands.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize

He said it will only be through contact tracing, mass screening and testing interventions that the country will maintain a lower spread rate during and post the lockdown.

“Contact tracing will be important, So far, 10 562 contacts of cases have been traced.

“[President Cyril Ramaphosa] said we need to scale up screening of the disease. We have had a slow but good start to this, as we have screened 456 074 people. We are asking provinces to move up on those targets,” he said.

Equally important will be scaling up the number of tracers. To this end, Mkhize said 13 488 trace personnel had been enrolled.

He called on citizens to cooperate with the mass screening and testing efforts.

“We have had one or two instances where people were frightened and didn’t cooperate, so we really appeal to people to cooperate.”

He added that going forward, locals would have to adopt new cultural norms to maintain a flattened curve of the disease.

“The new culture going forward should be no hugs, no kissing, no shaking of hands,” he said.

Mkhize also announced that the department had decided to endorse the widespread use of masks, stating that people could use cloth masks.

“There shouldn’t be a need for everyone to be wearing surgical or N95 masks; let’s reserve those for the front-line workers.”

He added that by next Tuesday there should be a mass shipment coming in of personal protective gear for healthcare workers, which should cover six weeks.

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