Covid-19: We must avoid stigmatising countries, says Gauteng premier on India

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
@GautengProvince, Twitter
  • Gauteng Premier David Makhura has cautioned against stigmatising countries due to Covid-19.
  • This amid growing concerns of the B.1.617 variant which is reportedly circulating in India.
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize assured South Africans the variant that causes Covid-19 had not been detected locally.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has cautioned against stigmatising countries due to Covid-19.

"We can't stigmatise India, we do not want countries to be stigmatised but we must take measures to protect ourselves like any country would do.

"Taking measures should not be about stigmatising countries, we do not want to be part of that. Covid-19 needs all of us to work together globally," Makhura told the media in Bronkhorstspruit on Thursday.

The premier was joined by the Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, BMW South Africa, and the German government, where the delegation opened a 150-bed Covid-19 isolation ward at the Bronkhorstspruit Hospital.

READ | Covid-19: 'You can never be prepared enough' - Makhura on Gauteng's readiness for third wave 

Makhura was responding to a question on calls for a travel ban to India over concerns about the B.1.617 variant which is reportedly circulating in India.

He said there were concerns, and the provincial command council had discussed what was happening globally in general as the province had an international port of entry, OR Tambo International Airport.

"We have a huge population of South Africans of Indian descent and the mobility between India and South Africa would be a great concern. 

"The minister of health says there is no need to be worried, we had a discussion that we will raise properly with the National Coronavirus Command Council when the president consults with provinces, but I want to say to that we must avoid this issue of stigmatising countries," Makhura added.

He also reflected on the period where a variant was referred to as the "South African variant".

"Stigmatising a country will be a problem that has long-term consequences."

ALSO READ | Covid-19: SA does not have the B.1.617 variant which is prevalent in India - Zweli Mkhize

In a statement on Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the B.1.617 variant that causes Covid-19, which was prevalent in India, had not been detected locally.

"We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of Covid-19. We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment," he added.

Mkhize said: "We have not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa, however, we have consulted members of the genomics team who have informed us that they have intensified their surveillance, not only to ensure that [the] variant can be detected quickly, but also to understand what the implications are for us in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa. This work is ongoing and we commit to continue to be guided by science."

The Gauteng provincial command council was set to have its weekly briefing on Friday.

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