'Culture is not static, we must embrace a new normal' - Limpopo Health MEC on Covid-19

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Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba. (GCIS)
Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba. (GCIS)
  • Limpopo is experiencing a rise in the number of new infections.
  • Funerals, social gatherings and parties have been identified as the major super-spreaders.
  • Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba says South Africans need to rethink some traditional customs and to embrace a new normal amid the pandemic.

New Covid-19 infections have been on the rise in Limpopo since the beginning of 2021, with authorities blaming the surge on non-adherence to health protocols, Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has said.

Cumulative infections have now surpassed 40 000, with more than 700 deaths in the province.

Funerals, social gatherings and parties – with people not sticking to health protocols – have been pointed out as the major "super-spreaders", as the country continues to be held in the grip of the second wave of the pandemic.

It was against this background that Ramathuba reiterated the need for people in the province, which is largely rural with traditional beliefs embedded, to rethink practices around funerals.

READ HERE | Ramaphosa warns of funeral Covid-19 'death traps' amid little room for economic manoeuvres

"Culture is not static. We really need to look at how best we close the chapter without viewing the [dead] body. Viewing the body can be a bomb for all the family members. We should change some of our practices and that's why we call it the 'new normal'," she said.

With new infections continuing to rise, the three private hospitals which are now fully occupied have started to refer patients to public facilities. The move raised a question of whether the public facilities were ready.

However, Ramathuba assured that bulk oxygen had been stored at MDR Hospital in Modimolle, which will be the major centre for hospitalisations.

"When we planned our surge somewhere around April last year, for the first wave, we planned for 2% attack rate, which is around 119 000 people. We didn't even have such an attack because, during the first wave, our total number was not even 20 000 in the province.

"Currently, we are estimating a 5% attack rate. This means around 300 000 people will be infected. That's why we have costed the employees that we need and we have presented [the plan] to the Treasury.

"We have met with the unions in the health sector [about the plan]. We believe we need each other currently and we must limit a lot of tension and focus all our energy on fighting Covid-19. Currently I don't need stress. If I continue dealing with squabbles, it's going to be a disaster for us," Ramathuba said. 

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