Dr Zweli Mkhize at a field hospital built by VW South African in East London. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter
Dr Zweli Mkhize at a field hospital built by VW South African in East London. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter

Storm of cases and deaths approaching but high recoveries are a positive - Zweli Mkhize

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jun 23, 2020

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Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says 20 million South Africans have been screened for the coronavirus over the past few months as the country approaches a "storm" with rising cases and deaths expected.

Mkhize was speaking on Tuesday at an event hosted to launch a  field hospital built by VW South Africa in East London. The hospital is funded by the German government.

On Monday the country's confirmed that cases of the coronavirus had surpassed 100 000. Mkhize said this was significant, but that with recoveries at 53 444, with over 50% of people diagnosed recovering, it showed that the government's health measures were working.

Mkhize said he had warned when the first case was reported in the country that 60% of the population could be infected with the virus. He had also warned that 20% of those infected would need intensive care. The minister said he was pleased to see that his projections, which were provided through scientific modelling, have not been realised.

Currently, the country had 2 888 patients in isolation in general wards, 262 were in high care, 539 patients were in ICU and 218 patients were on ventilators and 566 on oxygen.

"These figures are much lower than the 20% we had initially projected and represented a public health response that has placed emphasis on proactive, preventative medicine. This has resulted in some of the best Covid-19 health indicators in the world We can keep this up but it requires a concerted effort by all South Africans to adopt the necessary behaviour change that will keep us all safe and ensure our morbidity and mortality rates remain low," Mkhize said.

The minister also commended the government's testing strategy with more than 1,2 million tests being conducted in four months. A few weeks ago the country's testing backlog had been recorded at over 100 000, but Mkhize said this has been largely decreased to 46 493.

The country has also been able to increase bed facilities through established quarantine facilities and there were now over 27 000 beds available for use.

Another issue facing the country's fight against the pandemic was the large number of healthcare workers who were infected with the virus. There have been 3 583 healthcare workers who have tested positive and 34 have died.

Mkhize warned that although the healthcare system had been strengthened, the storm of increased cases and deaths was fast approaching.

"We are heading towards a storm, whatever we were seeing before was clam before the storm. We are riding into the storm. The numbers we are seeing are saying that our positives cases will continue to increase and the number of people losing their lives will continue to increase," the minister said.

Mkhize warned that it was now time for citizens to take better responsibility to curb the spread of the virus by wearing masks and social distancing. 


* 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 

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