Good news! South Africa may surge to level one soon, hints Zweli Mkhize

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize talks to Loretta Windvogel 44, at Livingstone Hospital.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize talks to Loretta Windvogel 44, at Livingstone Hospital.
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

The declining number of Covid-19 infections in South Africa may see the country move to level 1 soon, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday.

The news comes as the country sits with 640,441 infections and 15,086 deaths.

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.”

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

“We have seen the numbers are decreasing. We think there are a lot of factors that are associated with this. 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 come out in the next few days and give us a sense of direction, but we will be preparing to start easing to the next level. When that is announced, we will move to that level, but it’s not decided yet,” he said.

While some have expressed concern about the further reopening of the economy, Mkhize said the country had done well and there needed to be a return to normal.

“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 been good news, because we do want to get back to normal activities. 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.”

Mkhize warned that caution must be exercised: “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 said SA’s daily infection rate had dropped from about 11,000 cases to about 2,000.

It would have been logical that from level 3 to level 2 there would have been an increase in numbers. It didn’t happen
Health minister Zweli Mkhize

“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.

South Africa’s Covid-19 recovery rate is now 88%, which is above the global average of 64.5%, he said.

“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.”

“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.

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