#UnrestSA: Acting health minister encourages people involved in 'gatherings' to test for Covid-19

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A vehicle that was damaged at KwaPata Clinic in Pietermartizburg.
A vehicle that was damaged at KwaPata Clinic in Pietermartizburg.
Health Department
  • Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said those who "gathered" during the unrest should get tested for Covid-19 - if needed.
  • She said the province was preparing for a surge of infections, anticipating that the looting could have been super-spreader events.
  • She said the true extent of Covid-19 infections in KZN would emerge in seven to 14 days.

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says capacity is in place in KwaZulu-Natal if a surge of Covid-19 infections presents itself following last week's unrest.

"There are plans and we have capacity in the province. The surge response team has been activated in the province, together with strategies based on documents produced with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on how we respond to a surge in a province or area, should we have a surge," said Kubayi-Ngubane.

She was speaking at People's Park in Moses Mabhida Stadium, where she observed vaccinations taking place.

"We are concerned with what we have seen in recent days, in terms of the impact to the healthcare system. We are seeing the numbers decreasing, but these might be artificial because quite a few people were gathering, as you know."

Kubayi-Ngubane said a real indication of the numbers would emerge in a week to 14 days.

Vaccine rollout

She said there were disruptions to the healthcare system, "but we are seeing a recovery in the province in terms of vaccinations, whereby the numbers are starting to pick up".

"In one day, they were able to vaccinate 1 700 people at one site in one facility. That tells you the province is picking up pace and we will support them."

ALSO READ | Third wave of infections peaks in Gauteng, but test positivity remains higher than peak of second wave

Kubayi-Ngubane denounced that healthcare workers were being stopped during the unrest.

During the protest, people stopped nurses and doctors in uniforms. It puts a strain on our healthcare facilities. People went and destroyed healthcare facilities to the value of almost R2 million of damaged infrastructure at various sites.

"We will have to look at how to support the province in recovering and rebuilding the infrastructure because they are needed. They are various things, including damage to cars and ambulances."

She said she was taken aback by the attacks on healthcare workers.

"You get surprised, previously when there were protests and marches, you never had healthcare facilities being targeted and healthcare workers being stopped to go to work.

"My appeal is that, as you protest, you might get injured and need a healthcare worker. Please don't disturb them as you go to work. Please make sure they are able to access healthcare facilities."

Looters must go to healthcare facilities

Kubayi-Ngubane said people who looted during the unrest should monitor their symptoms.

"Those involved in protests and see yourself or start having symptoms, please present yourself at healthcare facilities, so we can test you. If you turn out positive, we can protect your families and loved ones, and we can protect the communities."

READ | 47 500 vaccines lost in recent SA unrest, says health department

She said the sooner those infected sought help, the better.

She lauded healthcare workers who kept the healthcare system going while risking their lives.

Kubayi-Ngubane said cases had picked up in Gauteng after marches and gatherings.

"There were marches and gatherings in Gauteng prior to it seeing the numbers we saw. We are anticipating that we will see the numbers rise in KZN. We are saying to the people, let's test them so we can catch the virus now.

"We will also start with community screening, so we can capture the virus at an early point."

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