'Surge is over' — Zweli Mkhize hints SA may move to level 1 in a few days

09 September 2020 - 11:33
By nonkululeko njilo AND Nonkululeko Njilo
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said SA may soon move to lockdown level 1.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan Health minister Zweli Mkhize said SA may soon move to lockdown level 1.

The declining number of Covid-19 infections in SA may see the country move to level 1 in a few days' time, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize revealed on Wednesday.

The news comes as the country sits with a cumulative total of 640,441 infections and 15,086 deaths related to Covid-19.

Speaking to Radio Islam, Mkhize said the worst was over.

“We can safely say we are over the surge. June, July and August were the worst months, as predicted by our models. However, we found that not as many people as the model suggested would be affected,” he said.

Mkhize said a number of factors could be attributed to the declining number of infections.

“A major factor is that we embarked on containment measures, and there may well be other factors in the environment here. We are very grateful for the support we got from South Africans to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.” 

Asked when the county could move to level 1 and what measures would be put in place, Mkhize said President Cyril Ramaphosa would give an indication in a few days.

“It’s too early to say. We are still discussing all the issues. The president will give us a sense of direction, but we will be preparing to start easing to the next level,” he said.

While some have expressed concern about further reopening the economy, Mkhize said the country had done well so far and normalcy needed to return.

“We were quite worried but didn’t have an increase in the number of cases when we moved from level 3 to level 2, which has really been good news because we do want to get back to normal activities so we will have to move to level 1. We hope we can still contain the numbers. The past weeks have been very encouraging with no upsurge.

“We need to still keep some measures around mixing, gatherings and so on, but we need to start opening up more economic activities as we move on. We need to get our economy back to its normal footing, we need to get people jobs, we need to get people to earn incomes. Everyone must be able to survive on their own without needing further assistance from government,” he said.

Mkhize warned that caution must be exercised to avoid another surge in infections.

“We are not out of the woods. We must always be careful because infections may rise again in the same way this is happening in Spain, America, Iran and Korea.” 

He thanked all religious leaders who supported the fight against the pandemic.

“They have given us tremendous support in this fight. If we didn’t get this support and co-operation from the imams in mosques, from churches and church leaders, from synagogues and rabbis, the risks in religious gatherings would have been huge. That they were able to contain their numbers in the past six months because there were no big gatherings, they must be given applause,” said Mkhize.