Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Photo: ANA
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Photo: ANA

Mkhize recommends the widespread use of cloth masks during Covid-19 outbreak

By Chad Williams Time of article published Apr 10, 2020

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Cape Town - The number of coronavirus infections in South Africa has risen to 2 003 with 24 confirmed Covid-19-related deaths, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday.

The minister said the department had managed to conduct 73 028 tests so far.

The breakdown of deaths per province is: Gauteng, 3; Western Cape, 6; KwaZulu-Natal, 12; Free State 3. 

Mkhize noted that except for two cases, the deceased were aged 63 and upwards and that people with co-existing diseases were succumbing quicker.

Tracing is of utmost importance to contain the spread of Covid-19, the minister added.

“We need to go around them to test. We also need to scale up the screening of patients in various communities. A total of 456 074 people have been screened thus far in our provinces,” Mkhize said.

“We are checking hospital admissions. There has been no explosion, the numbers of deaths do not show a huge explosion.”

The minister said a large number of tracers are involved in the fight against Covid-19, with 13 488 tracers working with the department.

Mkhize called on everyone to co-operate with the screening process, reiterating that contact tracing, screening and test referring are our strongest way forward.

“We recommend the widespread use of cloth masks. Individuals can make their own masks, there shouldn’t be a need for everyone to be wearing surgical/N95 masks. Let us reserve those for the front-line workers treating patients,” Mkhize pleaded.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/MasksCOVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MasksCOVID19 #ClothFaceMask @COVID_19_ZA @HealthZA pic.twitter.com/ptNsa4oUFl

— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize)

The minister said that with a mask we can protect the next person.

"Don’t keep touching the mask, don’t keep removing the mask. Treat the mask as potentially infective. Ensure regular washing of the mask,” he advised, adding that his department will make the guidelines available in due course.

Mkhize said they had met with a large number of unions and they agreed that the protection of staff was of utmost importance and no member of staff would be forced to go to work without the necessary gear for their designated position.

He continued: “We have had successful initiatives with the business fraternity. I am able now on a dashboard to see the countries readiness on PPEs (personal protective equipment) and we can order stock from other countries."

“The unity that has been shown during this time has begun to show green shoots. It is possible that we may be able to buck the trend and chart our own path.

“We want to thank the president, the National Command Council and ministers. It is important to know there is a scientific basis and support for the extension of the national lockdown announced by the president,” said Mkhize.

African News Agency/ANA

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

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to  SA Coronavirus for more information.

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