Gauteng looking at 'intermittent' lockdown as it prepares for worst in Covid-19 cases

30 June 2020 - 10:57 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Gauteng has to date recorded 39,841 Covid-19 cases with 180 deaths.
Gauteng has to date recorded 39,841 Covid-19 cases with 180 deaths.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that Gauteng could soon become the epicentre of Covid-19 in SA, with a rapid increase daily in the infection rate.

This comes after the province's Covid-19 confirmed cases tipped the 39,000 mark.

To date, the province has 39,841 confirmed cases with 180 deaths.

Mkhize said Gauteng will soon surpass the Western Cape, which has 61,375 confirmed cases, as the province with the highest number of Covid-19 infections.

According to Mkhize, some of the factors contributing to this trend are inward migration, the large population, increased congregating which spurs cluster outbreaks, and the level to which people can adapt to new behaviours such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Mkhize said it was inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks as infections spilt from communities into places of congregation such as mines, factories, taxis and buses.

He said, when the country moved from lockdown level 4 to 3, there was a large inward movement of people as economic activities resumed.

“The surge that has been witnessed in the past two weeks has developed due to a speeding of infections carried in by members of the community as they moved back into the workplace,” he added.

Speaking on 702, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said the province was looking at an “intermittent” lockdown as it is preparing for the worst.

Masuku also said the health department hoped that it would be ready for a peak in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

“We are looking at what is called an intermittent lockdown, which we have seen in other countries is working quite well, where there will be a period of time where there will be opening, and there will be a period of time where there is a lockdown to contain infections.”

Masuku said the government was more concerned about the deliberate breach of lockdown regulations by citizens.

“People are even starting to deliberately organise parties and deliberately organising weddings. This is something we are trying to actively discourage,” he said.

Under the intermittent lockdown, Masuku said there would be a period where society will be open and there will be a period where there will be a lockdown to contain the infection.

“It has helped in other countries and the literature has shown that it could be one of the options. It is a matter that it is under discussion and we are considering it going forward.

“If we have the health-care sector collapse in Gauteng, it generally means that the whole care system in the country has collapsed. So we have to do almost everything to protect and save lives going forward,” he said.