Covid-19: 'Worrying increase in some districts', says Mkhize as SA records 2 149 new cases

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Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize
Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize
Lulama Zenzile/Gallo Images/Die Burger
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says every province, except the Eastern Cape, has had at least one district of concern.
  • As of Thursday, the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases identified in South Africa is 1 590 370.
  • Mkhize said government was still determining a the way forward on border control.

South Africa recorded 2 149 new Covid-19 cases and 46 deaths on Thursday.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says the department has "noticed a worrying trend of increasing numbers of detected cases in a number of districts". 

The cumulative number of cases has now increased to 1 590  370, with the total deaths sitting at 54 620, Mkhize said in his report on Thursday night. 

There were a total of 23 845 active cases across provinces.

Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape and North West were provinces of particular concern, the minister said. 

He added that every province, with the notable exception of Eastern Cape, had at least one district of concern.

READ |  India's 'variant of concern' has not yet been detected in SA - Western Cape health head

Among the districts flagged by the NICD as "under observation" because of a rise in the last 14 days include Mangaung, Fezile Dabi, Xhariep in Free State, City of Johannesburg metro, Sedibeng, City of Tshwane and Ekurhuleni in Gauteng. 

Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal also had districts of concern.

"Although some of these districts may have relatively low case incidences, the significant rise in percentage changes should be taken as a serious warning," Mkhize said. 

Mkhize commended Eastern Cape, saying every district had recorded a zero percent average change.

He added that this, however, did not mean the province was not recording any new infections, but meant it had maintained an encouraging plateau.

Variants

The minister said the Eastern Cape, which suffered a devastating second Covid-19 wave, and adopted a differentiated approach on tightening regulations, had made great sacrifices mitigating the spread of infections. 

"This reinforces the message that we can all play our part to ensure that these rise[s] in infections do not turn into a third wave. We all know what it takes to keep the coronavirus at bay - strict wearing of masks, sanitizing and avoiding crowded gatherings.

"The government can facilitate and intervene, but ultimately we would rather concentrate on economic recovery, rather than imposing more restrictions. Therefore, every citizen must adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions if we are to avoid further restrictions."

"This also goes for the way we approach the threat of variants of concern (VOC), like the B.1.617 variant circulating in India. Scientists around the world do not blame the devastating wave of Covid-19 on the variant alone, but always observe that the lack of non-pharmaceutical interventions played a major role in the spread of the variant in that country."

Mkhize also said there was no need to worry about the B.1.617 variant because, just like any other, the treatment remained the same, including measures to prevent the spreading the virus.

He added:

One of the sequences of a traveller has been completed and it turned out to be the B.1.351 variant, the one that is circulating here in South Africa. This tells us that one cannot assume that a traveller carries any particular variant and this is why we insist on being guided by the science.

Mkhize said the department also shared concerns that a variant could be imported and result in another wave, adding that it was for this reason that the National Coronavirus Command Council was deliberating on controlling borders. 

He added that a final determination would be handed to Cabinet, and a decision would then be communicated to the public. 


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