Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize is on a two-day visit to the Eastern Cape. Photo: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize is on a two-day visit to the Eastern Cape. Photo: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Health minister visits Eastern Cape amid Covid-19 resurgence

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Nov 26, 2020

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CAPE TOWN: Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is on a two-day visit to the Eastern Cape to address the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the province.

This is Mkhize’s second visit to the province in two weeks, and this time he is set to oversee the province’s efforts in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Addressing the media in Nelson Mandela Bay, Mkhize said he will be visiting medical facilities to assess their readiness for the spike in Covid-19 cases, be involved in community awareness programmes and meet with key stakeholders within the province.

Mkhize last visited the Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth and said since he was briefed by provincial officials about the trends in the epidemiology of the virus he believes three key aspects must be focused on in the province to curb the spread of the virus.

He said the whole country had seen small cluster outbreaks, but they were transient, whereas Nelson Mandela Bay continued to fester.

“We have seen the numbers of positive cases increasing in Nelson Mandela Bay and Eastern Cape. We have seen the number of people admitted in hospital has increased, the numbers of people recorded to have lost their lives has also increased and the percentage of people positive has also increased. By all counts this is an indication of a resurgence,” Mkhize said.

He said a few days ago he indicated that the number of Covid-19 cases was beginning to breach the 3 000 positive cases per day mark and this was an indication that “we are moving far from where we were”.

He said over the past few weeks most of the numbers were from provinces which were delayed in their earlier surge, such as the Free State, the Northern Cape and Limpopo.

“Clearly now the numbers are now driven by new cases, mainly in two provinces, Eastern Cape, which on daily numbers reflect about 50 to 55% of daily positive cases, followed by Western Cape, which on a daily report seems to increase by 25%,” Mkhize said.

He said his visit to the province was based on three key aspects. First, case management: he said when he visited the area last week, he inspected the hospital bed situation and was comfortable that additional beds were available to absorb new patients.

“It has been brought to my attention that there are still problems. There is a problem of a bottleneck at the admissions and casualty areas. This tends to happen every time we get an upsurge. We have had to deal with this in Western Cape and Gauteng as well. What we need to then do is to sit down and go through the practical issues of why that is the case,” Mkhize said.

He said the second aspect of his visit was community containment programmes. Mkhize said the virus could not be beaten in hospital and the fight was in the hands of the communities. Where communities fail, society fails, he said.

The third aspect of the visit was to encourage Covid-19 testing. Mkhize said it was important to encourage councillors and other leaders to mobilise every ward and talk to people about prevention, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine and early presentation at hospitals.

African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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