'We don't want to scare you': Mkhize warns of Covid 'resurgence'

Health minister says risk of resurgence is high after spike in Western Cape

21 October 2020 - 16:30
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is worried about SA’s Covid-19 trajectory, particularly following a recent spike in the Western Cape.

In a statement shared on his official Twitter account, Mkhize - who is in isolation after he and his wife, Dr May Mkhize, tested positive for Covid-19 at the weekend - said his fears come after reading and analysing epidemiological reports.

He said the rate of infections and deaths would “inform the recommendations” that his department took to the National Coronavirus Council.

“As the minister of health, I cannot help but be concerned,” he said.

“Fellow South Africans, when we emphasise that the risk of a resurgence remains high, we do not do so to instil fear in you. As government, we have a responsibility to alert you when we see concerning trends. It would be irresponsible of us to ignore ‘small flames’ that we see redeveloping in some parts of the country.”

Mkhize said the reports showed that, over the past week, there was an increase of 9.1% in cases across SA. Over the past 14 days, this increase was at 10.7%.

We are also seeing concerning increases in some of the provinces. To illustrate this, in the last seven days, there was a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western Cape. The province recorded a 42% increase in new infections.

“According to our resurgence plan, we define this significant spike in new cases in the Western Cape as a resurgence,” he said.

He added the provincial health department had identified “specific clusters” that were responsible for this.

“We have noted that the single biggest cluster outbreak has been identified to be in the southern subdistrict in the Cape Metro, and this has been associated with a super-spreader event in a bar,” said Mkhize.

The minister said it was vital that citizens were not complacent and adhered to health protocols.

“All of us must take this responsibility and always encourage those around us. We must also take heed of the major lessons from Covid-19, that is: despite the anxiety, the psychological trauma, the physical suffering and grief from lives we lost, Covid-19 has reawakened our deep values of ubuntu in us all.

“We have been reminded to care more, love more, empathise with our families, friends, colleagues and even those we hear about in the media. This is the same spirit that we must carry in fighting all other social and health ills facing our society, including gender-based violence,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mkhize also spoke of his own recovery from the respiratory illness.

“I want to assure you that we are improving each day. I remain in quarantine at home, I am resting and recuperating with only a cough remaining from my previous symptoms,” he said.

“I’m also very pleased that my wife has been discharged from hospital today and will now be joining me for quarantine at home.

“In a war, when an injured soldier lies down to recover, injuries do not remove his mindset from the set goal to win the battle. He uses such an opportunity to reflect on the battle and also to think ahead for when he rejoins the army. Like a soldier, I find myself in that position as we continue to fight this battle against Covid-19 as a country.”

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