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

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Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
Photo: Cara-Lee Dorfling
  • Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said the provincial government was concerned about the surge in Covid-19 infections.
  • She said it signalled a second wave of infections.
  • Scores of unmasked patrons were found sharing drinks in overcrowded taverns and not adhering to social distancing rules.
  • eNCA reported that 80% of people needing ventilators in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality public hospitals and half of those entering casualty wards, do not make it out alive.

Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said the provincial government was concerned about the surge in Covid-19 infections, which signalled a second wave of infections in the province.

Taverns and other places that draw large crowds will be a focus point when Gomba, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu meet this week to intensify the fight against the second wave.

HeraldLive reported that scores of unmasked patrons were sharing drinks in overcrowded taverns and not adhering to social distancing rules.

These were just some of the disturbing discoveries made by the police and Eastern Cape Liquor Board officials during tavern inspections over the weekend, the newspaper reported.

Broadcaster eNCA reported that 80% of people needing ventilators in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality public hospitals and half of those entering casualty wards, do not make it out alive.

According to the channel, there were no oxygen points left at Uitenhage Provincial Hospital and a ward meant for eight patients had 20.

The channel also estimated that 10 people die daily of Covid-19 at Eastern Cape public hospitals.

Hospitals filled to capacity

Hospitals are filled to capacity amid a critical shortage of beds, the channel reported.

This comes as the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality are battling a second wave of Covid-19.

The numbers of health workers testing positive was also increasing rapidly in the metro.

Gomba has announced that the provincial health department will this week continue to intensify the fight against Covid-19 by meeting with health workers, organised labour, religious and church leaders, civil society and businesses, especially tavern associations.

She said this will be done to ensure everyone plays their respective roles in the fight against the resurgence.

READ | Eastern Cape Covid-19 outbreaks may not develop into second wave if managed well - Mkhize

"This is why we need behavioural change because this virus, as we have been saying since day one, moves when people move. When people don't wear masks, like it has been the case in some areas, that means the virus spreads faster," Gomba said.

Gomba added:

Large gatherings are super spreaders hence we have been meeting with tavern owners about ensuring patrons are kept to the allowed numbers inside their places of business and that they adhere to regulations by, among other things, wearing face masks and not drinking from the same bottles or glasses.

Details of where the ministers and MEC will be in the province will be announced in due course, said provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.

Among the points of discussion will be a call for the traditional initiation season to be reopened this summer.

Meanwhile, Dlamini-Zuma's deputy, Obed Bapela, said government and all stakeholders will not tolerate bogus initiation schools and anyone found to be disobeying the order suspending initiations due to Covid-19. He said those caught running illegal initiation schools will face the full might of the law in line with Disaster Management Act regulations.

With infection numbers increasing again, Bapela called on everyone to work together to defeat the coronavirus.

"The process to suspend initiation[s] included broader consultations with various sectors across the country. To this effect, we continue urging our traditional leaders and communities to observe the suspension of initiation[s].

"We all have to educate communities about the dangers of the coronavirus, especially as it relates to this important cultural practice," Bapela said.


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