Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize Picture: Phando Jikelo (ANA)
Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize Picture: Phando Jikelo (ANA)

Q&A: Zweli Mkhize on outbreaks at hospitals and why alcohol and cigarette sales are banned

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 19, 2020

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As at Saturday, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa is 3034.

The total number of tests conducted to date is 108 021. 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Saturday held a virtual press briefing to answer questions from the media.

Lesotho nationals on chronic medication who are unable to go home due to the lockdown - some who are HIV positive - say they are unable to get ARVs in SA because of the different regimens in the two countries. Have the two countries talked about how they can be helped and what has been agreed?

The matter has been brought to our attention. So our officials are attending to the matter. We need to work out whether we are dealing with people coming into private hospitals or public hospitals. At the end of the day some of these essential medication are things that we need to work together and assist each other. When there's a need for someone to come for medical attention, we actually get to give them exemptions. It happens every now and again if someone needs to be given assistance to get into South Africa, we assist them and clear them and make special arrangements. We will keep assisting where we can as long as we get the information. We will then follow the matter and try and get it resolved.

Considering what happened at Netcare St Augustine. Do you have an update? Are there any such outbreaks at public hospitals that you are aware of?

We have not been notified of such outbreaks at public hospitals. We are trying to combine the list of all health workers who could be Covid-19 positive. In that regard, there would have been some who are at public hospitals. We were concerned about what happened at St Augustine's because the number of staff who were positive was just too high. In fact, it was actually quite shocking. We have to get to the bottom of what happened and also ensure that we prevent this from happening in any other area. 

Does smoking also have an impact on the health of people who have tested positive? This is after cigarette sales have been banned in the country for now.

 

Cigarettes have a very negative impact on anybody's health. Smoking tends to affect the cardiovascular system. We really discourage smoking. 

What are your fears about alcohol consumption during this lockdown?

We have to rely on people's sober judgments to conduct themselves in a way that can encourage distancing, people following coughing etiquette and hygiene. Alcohol reduces any individual's capacity. We believe that it is not something that is really helpful in Covid-19 management. With less alcohol available there has been a decrease in traumas at hospitals. Fewer people have been involved in accidents and fewer people have been stabbed.

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