Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, far left, says the high number of infections in the Western Cape are bound to have an impact on the Eastern Cape as the neighbouring provinces are intricately linked through movement of people and goods along trade routes. File picture: ANA/Brendan Magaar
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, far left, says the high number of infections in the Western Cape are bound to have an impact on the Eastern Cape as the neighbouring provinces are intricately linked through movement of people and goods along trade routes. File picture: ANA/Brendan Magaar

Covid-19 transmission in Eastern and Western Cape interlinked, says Mkhize

By ANA Reporter Time of article published May 11, 2020

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Cape Town - It is evident that there is cross-border transmission of Covid-19 between the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape and this has to be handled holistically, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday.

"The proximity is affecting the people. The Eastern Cape and the Western Cape... it is the same community and the transmission between them is not even an accident," the minister said while visiting the Eastern Cape.

He said the two neighbouring provinces were intricately linked through movement of people and goods along trade routes and it was therefore obvious that the high number of infections in the Western Cape would have an impact on the Eastern Cape.

"The trade routes and the seasonal workers are something we have to take into account as we manage the containment of the infections," he said.

The Western Cape as of Sunday had 5 621 confirmed infections and the Eastern Cape 1 356.

Mkhize said he was pleased to hear that the premiers of the Western and Eastern Cape have been in contact to discuss how to manage the "spillover" between their areas.

The national health authorities have in recent weeks had to intervene in the Eastern Cape to shore up the province's response to the pandemic and its testing capacity.

The minister praised the response of the health-care authorities in the Western Cape to the crisis, saying: "I'm very impressed with the solid plans they have got."

But he said the one area where the province needed improvement, as all other eight in South Africa did, was community health.

"It is a weakness throughout the entire country. We need to overhaul our public health system so that we can respond better than we are now (doing)," he said.

Some of the Cuban doctors seconded to South Africa would be deployed in the two provinces, he said, because of their strength in community health work.

He said that this would entail stabilising "infection long before people get to hospital".

President Cyril Ramaphosa will this week visit both the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

African News Agency (ANA)

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