'The sooner we can get to level 1 lockdown the better': Zweli Mkhize on Covid-19

08 September 2020 - 09:34
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File photo.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize says the sooner the country can reduce the level of lockdown restrictions, the better.

Speaking to media on Monday morning, Mkhize said the latest Covid-19 data for the country showed an improvement.

He said SA's daily infection rate had dropped from 11,000 positive cases to about 2,000.

“We never actually knew what to expect and the reality is that we can now safely say we are over the surge. We are not over the worst yet. We are worried about what may happen in terms of a resurgence in the country,” said Mkhize.

SA has dropped down from fifth spot to seventh spot on the Worldometers when it comes to countries with the most Covid-19 infections. Colombia has overtaken it with more cases.

By Monday, SA had recorded 639,362 Covid-19 infections and 15,004 deaths.

“It would have been logical that from level 3 to level 2, there would have been an increase in numbers, it didn’t happen. We don’t conclude because we have seen what happened in other countries where there was a lull for a few weeks before a resurgence,” said Mkhize.

“The sooner we can get to level 1 the better, the sooner we have a normal economy the better, it is better for the country. We are hoping South Africans will understand that to get there, we have to make sure we are just as cautious in level 2 so that there is no resurgence.”

Mkhize said SA's Covid-19 recovery rate is now at 88%, which is above the global average of 64.5%.

He said if people continue to adhere to precautionary measures to avoid a resurgence in Covid-19 infections, the country will be down to number eight on a global scale.

“We are at a point where our numbers are steadily coming down, hospitalisation numbers have reduced, and people in intensive care units (ICUs) are reducing. We must be very optimistic but still very cautious. We are not seeing the end of the disease yet,” he said.

Mkhize also cautioned that it is too early to celebrate, saying that it could lead to a flare-up in cases again.

“We have passed the wave. It surged around June, and July was the highest. For about three weeks now, we have been on a steady decline. We are not seeing any new spikes or surges. We are really hoping we don’t get a second surge.

“We have seen other countries that celebrated a reduction of numbers, went to a point where they had zero patients testing positive, and then suddenly it flared up again. We must keep our precautions and all containment measures must stay in place,” he said.