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Mkhize warns of Covid-19 third wave at Easter if people let down their guard

Minister warns of false sense of security because country is on lockdown level 1

10 March 2021 - 18:23 By amanda khoza
Staying away from crowded spaces is a good way to reduce your chances of getting Covid-19 during the Easter holidays.
Staying away from crowded spaces is a good way to reduce your chances of getting Covid-19 during the Easter holidays.
Image: Supplied

South Africans need to wear masks, social distance, wash their hands, sanitise and stay away from overcrowded spaces if the country is to limit the resurgence of Covid-19, particularly during Easter.

This is the sentiment shared by health minister Zweli Mkhize during an oral question and answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“We need to insist that whatever we do, those nonpharmaceutical interventions remain standard to prevent a third or fourth wave. That is what we need to focus on,” said Mkhize.

The minister said because the country was on alert level 1 did not mean that South Africans should let their guards down.

“We will continue to preach the message of masks, social distancing and ensuring that hands are sanitised and frequently washed. This is important because using those methods alone will help us delay any resurgence.”

Mkhize said last year the government noticed that when the country was placed on level one, people dropped their guards and forgot about the risk of Covid-19.

“We are still living with Covid-19,” he said, urging South Africans to continue abiding by the rules and regulations.

On the rate of the vaccination of health-care workers, he said this was limited to the rate at which the vaccines are flowing.

“At this point that is still limited. We anticipate that the number of vaccines [available] will rapidly increase from April, May and June and therefore we will be in a position to escalate the number of people who get vaccinated. We will do everything in our power to continue to reach as many people as possible, with a target of more than 14 million by the end of the year.”

Certainly, he said, the delay in the supply of the vaccines may affect the exact number of people who would have been vaccinated by the end of 2021.

Mkhize said the government would continue to review the vaccination process.

EFF MP Naledi Chirwa told Mkhize that the government’s vaccination rollout lacked a proper plan, to which Mkhize responded,  “Our plans are not haphazard, I think it needs to be understood that whatever plan every country was embarking upon will depend to a great extent on speed of delivery of the vaccines by the manufacturing companies.”

Mkhize said SA was not the only country that was feeling the constraints.

However, he said, the aim now is to get as many of the 14 million people as possible vaccinated by the end of the year.

“The waves of the reinfection can never be predicted. We cannot prevent or even predict the wave accurately.”

The risk of third and fourth waves can never be excluded because this was the trend globally “and no-one can say that until the majority of people are vaccinated that we are safe from any resurgence,” said Mkhize.