Booze ban, visiting hospitals & becoming complacent: Zweli Mkhize speaks

08 August 2020 - 10:50 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Health minister Zweli Mkhize.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan

Health minister Zweli Mkhize addressed the media on Thursday about the government's response to Covid-19. He is in KwaZulu-Natal for a two-day visit.

Here are five important takeouts from his address:

Spread of Covid-19

The minister expressed concern that there were not enough people who were taking Covid-19 safety precautions seriously.

“There are still many more who are not wearing masks, washing hands, not using sanitisers and not social distancing. This is the message that we want to send to our people: Please let us use masks when we get out of our homes.”

Booze ban

Mkhize said the decision behind the booze ban was to save beds in hospital trauma and ICU units.

“As far as we are concerned, there are real reasons why we support the suspension of alcohol. Bed numbers were actually getting filled and therefore we were running out of beds. All the hospitals were showing us the figures. Everybody knows this. These are avoidable situations.”


Mkhize said hospital management must save lives and ensure that patients receive the best care. He said failure to do this would result in action taken against them.

“The message to management is that we would like them to take their responsibilities quite seriously because there will be action taken on those who are not managing properly and those who are not ensuring that the quality of care to the patients is maintained.”

If you have flu, go to the hospital

The minister said there were people who die at home after having flu-like symptoms. He said some are reluctant to seek medical attention because they assume it's normal flu. The minister said people must go to hospitals and get tested if they have symptoms.

“People must go to hospitals. Get the hospital to test you and treat you. Don't decide whether you get to treat yourself at home or whether you stay in the hospital. If you're admitted, don't rush to leave the hospital, wait till the doctor decides you need to go home.”

Excess deaths 

Mkhize said there are concerns around the accuracy of Covid-19 deaths due to some people possibly dying before being diagnosed.

“There's been a debate about what is called excess deaths. We're reporting [deaths] as much as possible. There are areas that are blind spots and one of those is people dying before they are diagnosed.

“Our departments must talk to the funeral parlours, and people who die at home we need to make sure that we swab them so we get a sense of whether they did have symptoms suggestive of Covid.”