IN QUOTES | Zweli Mkhize on low levels of testing, lessons learnt and Covid-19 hot spots in SA

15 April 2020 - 15:07 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Health minister Zweli Mkhize spoke about challenges in getting an overall picture of how SA was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize spoke about challenges in getting an overall picture of how SA was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan

Health minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday spoke on Radio 702 about the progress made by his department in fighting the spread of coronavirus in SA.

He addressed concerns about low testing, particularly in high density areas, dealing with asymptomatic individuals and the capacity of testing laboratories.

SA has 2,415 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths, TimesLIVE reported on Tuesday.

Here are important takeouts from what the minister said:

Low testing & spread of Covid-19

“We deal with concrete numbers of people tested but whether this represents a uniform distribution of tests and positive cases in the whole community is impossible to tell because the distortion comes from the fact that people who came forward, were those who had money to go to private doctors.”

Testing in hot spots not reflective of countrywide spread

“We're also going to areas which we are targeting and those we test might be people who are in areas we consider to be hot spots, mainly because we've identified cases or contacts in those areas and we think they fall into a description of high-risk groups. But this doesn't give the full picture of what is happening in the rest of the country.”

April 18, a time to reflect

“The 18th of April is about looking back at the past three weeks to say what trends can we work out, but I think what we have seen is an indication that with determination and unity of South African people, it's possible to actually make the outbreak behave in the way that we determine, rather than following the other countries, because we have had the advantage of learning from them.”

Finding new methods

“Those who have tested positive inside the country have no singular pattern and now we have to find what are the factors that will predispose to faster spread and focus on those. But what about the areas where we will go last? That is a query we have to answer.”

Laboratories

“We have a network of public and private laboratories, and in total we can do up to 600,000 tests based on the availability of test kits.”

Testing of symptomatic individuals

“We always go for the most obvious cause of the problem and we deal with that before we deal with the less clear scenarios. In this case the numbers of people who are asymptomatic is not as large as those who will exhibit symptoms.”


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