‘We are now riding into a raging storm’: Mkhize on 100,000 infections

“We are now riding into a raging storm” – Zweli Mkhize on SA’s 100,000 infections. Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has taken a swipe at critics saying the government was not doing enough to curb the spread of Covid-19 as the number of infections in SA exceeded 100,000.

The number of deaths related to the pandemic was 1,991 as of Monday.

Mkhize said on Tuesday that as many as 4,000 cases had been recorded over a 24-hour cycle since the outbreak in March.

“A mere four months ago this pandemic was foreign. It was a concept that South African citizens really had no idea we would be even close to reaching 100,000 any time in our future, but now it is here and has come with many surprises and lessons,” he said.

Mkhize was speaking during the opening of the first phase of a field hospital built with  funds from the German government in the Eastern Cape.

“Some have even publicly debated whether this increase in numbers means that there is a failure by government to effectively respond to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today I want to publicly and boldly dispel such notions,” he said.

“It is my humble view that the government has thus far done their very best to mount an effective response to Covid-19 in the containment programme and in some instances, did something that some of the more advanced countries may not have been able to do.”

“A mere four months ago this pandemic was foreign. It was a concept that South African citizens really had no idea we would be even close to reaching 100,000 any time in our future, but now it is here and has come with many surprises and lessons,” he said.

Mkhize said the government did not have a “perfect” strategy to deal with the pandemic but maintained that it was ready to deal with a spike in infections.

“We have said that we will be ready to deal with a large number of the cases that will be coming through, and today is part of the demonstration of our effort in that direction,” he said.

The country has seen a spike of infections since the easing of the lockdown regulations which, he added, could not be in place “forever”.

“We needed to strike a balance between saving lives and people’s livelihoods.”

Experts have warned that the country would see an increase in the number of cases. Mkhize expressed similar sentiments, saying, “We are now riding into a raging storm.”

He paid tribute to health workers and people who had succumbed to the virus as a result of underlying health conditions.

“This cruelty that we’ve witnessed has cut across racial, sexual and ethnic lines. It has targeted the rich, poor and undermined the phenomenon of life as we know it.”

He said those who died were “mothers, fathers, sisters, members of families, these are loved ones” who had plans for their future.

Mkhize said he had previously warned about an impending difficult and devastating storm that lay ahead.

“All indications are, as a country, we may be riding right into that storm whose devastating impact is expected to peak during the cold winter months. The rising numbers may be an indication that such a reality is now with us.”

By Nonkululeko Njilo

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