Zweli Mkhize warns SA is not far from return to strict lockdown

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has warned South Africans to adhere to precautionary measures to avoid a resurgence in Covid-19 infections and a return to a strict lockdown. File photo.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan

SA may be over the Covid-19 surge, but reimposing strict restrictions is still on the table, warns health minister Zweli Mkhize.

Mkhize told eNCA he hoped SA did not have to reimpose extreme lockdown restrictions, as other countries have done.

He said the plateau had started and the country was seeing an impressive decrease in Covid-19 infections, but he feared a resurgence might be on the cards if people neglected precautionary measures.

“The real risk we are worried about is a resurgence in infections if people neglect the precautionary measures, said Mkhize.

“Some countries have had to reimpose strict restrictions. We will have to do the same if people start behaving complacently. We hope we don’t have to go in that direction and it’s a decision that is not taken lightly. We do think it’s possible for people to exercise social behavioural changes,” he said.

To date, SA has 611,450 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 13,159 deaths. The country’s recovery rate stands at 516,494, translating to a recovery rate of more than 83%. This is above the global average of 64.5%.

Speaking during the Gauteng General Practitioner Collaboration panel discussion, Mkhize said the recovery percentage can be attributed to dedicated health-care workers.

“All the people who have recovered, we talking about 83%, they recovered in the hands of health-care workers,” he said.

“We have taken the slogan ‘no PPE (personal protective equipment), no work’ because we want to encourage all those who are leadership to take the issue of protection of health workers very seriously. It is duty to honour their sacrifice by committing fully to the safety and wellbeing of health-care workers,” said Mkhize.

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, who was on the panel, said none of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) labs have reported test backlogs.

Abdool Karim said the country’s testing strategy has remained the same.

“The positive test proportion has steadily declined. There are fewer people testing positive for Covid-19, and hospital admissions have come down,” he said.

BY UNATHI NKANJENI

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