Covid-19: Zweli Mkhize to visit Eastern Cape's 'super-spreader taverns'

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Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize.
Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize.
  • Taverns have been identified as "super-spreader" of Covid-19 and those found failing to adhere to Covid-19 regulations will be shut down or fined.
  • The spotlight will fall on taverns and behaviour when Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize visits taverns in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
  • Change in human behaviour is key to the fight against a Covid-19 resurgence in the municipality, the Eastern Cape health department has said.

Taverns have been identified as super-spreaders of Covid-19 and those found failing to adhere to Covid-19 regulations, will be shut down or fined.

The spotlight will fall on taverns and the behaviour of patrons when Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu visit the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

The announcement was made by the Eastern Cape Department of Health on Wednesday.

The inter-ministerial team, led by Mkhize, will make rounds at city taverns on Thursday and Friday amid concerns of a resurgence in Covid-19 infections in the area.

"Change in human behaviour is key to the fight against Covid-19 resurgence in Nelson Mandela Bay," health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said on Wednesday.

READ HERE | Netcare sends staff, ventilators to ECape as cases surge, and warns about Western Cape

Taverns made national headlines this week after journalists discovered that patrons were drinking in overcrowded venues and not adhering to social distance rules.

The Nelson Mandela Bay metro has the most cases and deaths from Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape.

The death toll is sitting at 1 566, with 39 515 confirmed cases.

The hotspot areas in the metro, which incorporates Port Elizabeth, Motherwell and Uitenhage, are

- Motherwell or Ikamvelihle

- Soweto on Sea

- Chatty

- Walmer

- New Brighton

- KwaNobuhle

- Cleary Park

Mkhize will be joined by Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and senior government officials.

"MEC Gomba, who is already in Nelson Mandela Bay, said during the two-day visit taverns – which some of them have proven to be super-spreaders since some patrons do not wear masks and there is minimal social distancing – will be visited," Kupelo said.

Gomba said: "Taverns found to be violating regulations may be closed or fined."

The MEC also dismissed media reports of a shortage of Covid-19 beds as fake news.

READ | Lockdown: 13 initiation schools shut down Eastern Cape for operating illegally

This, the MEC said, was because there were 2 100 Covid-19 beds available in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.

On staff shortages, Kupelo said the health department is moving to address this by appointing doctors and nurses at the Mpilisweni, Dora Nginza and Livingstone hospitals.

The MEC called on people to stick to the golden rules of washing hands or using an alcohol-based sanitiser regularly, keeping at least a 2-metre distance and wearing masks.

ALSO READ | Eastern Cape health MEC to target taverns amid Covid-19 second wave concerns

On the continued attacks and hijacking of health workers and cars, the MEC called on communities to work with the police and the health department by reporting the perpetrators.

"These incidents are putting health officials under extreme pressure and fear. These barbaric acts should stop. The health challenge facing our communities cannot afford these distractions," Gomba said.

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