Johannesburg – Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, says his department is closely monitoring the Eastern Cape to quell the resurgence of cluster outbreaks in the province.
Mkhize is on a two-day visit to the Eastern Cape, which kicked off on Thursday and is set to wrap up on Friday. The visit, Mkhize said, is set to focus on case management.
This week’s visit to the Eastern Cape, the second one this month, comes as the province battles a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.
To date, the Eastern Cape accounts for 121 329 of the country’s total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 4 475 deaths.
“We are here because there is clearly a resurgence in Nelson Mandela Bay. Indeed, it is a concern that we are seeing in a few other areas.
“The whole country has bubbles of small cluster outbreaks, which we are seeing but they are transient,” said the Minister.
Today, Mkhize — together with Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu — held a meeting with officials from the National Health Department, provincial leaders and members of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality executive.
Dlamini-Zuma and Zulu attended the meeting virtually.
The Eastern Cape accounts for between 50% and 55% of the daily new COVID-19 infections in the country, with Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan accounting for 42% of the country’s new infections.
According to the Health Department, the virus is claiming the lives of more than one in four patients in the province.
Mkhize said his department is closely monitoring the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and Sarah Baartman District Municipality, where they have seen a rise in new cases.
“We need to work hard in these areas to contain the spread of this virus,” said the Minister.
With more than 11 000 active cases in the province, Mkhize said the department is rolling out a multi-pronged strategy to halt the spread.
“The behaviour of the community will contain the virus, not hospitals. We need a brief meeting with the mayor, business stakeholders. For businesses, where there is no compliance, we will have to look at new restrictions.
“At the moment, we believe that South Africans can manage this,” he said.
With the festive season fast approaching, Mkhize said deliberations at Thursday’s meeting will carve the response for this period.
“What happens today will help us approach what we will do this festive season. We will be going to communities and encouraging people to test,” he said.
As December also marks initiation season in the province, Mkhize said Thursday’s meeting will also discuss this aspect in relation to managing the spread of the virus.
“Initiation is one tradition that is intense. We need to manage it sensitively. We will be discussing it today as well. We have to look at what the views are from traditional leaders.
“We will announce at a later time what the best method will be to deal with the initiation matter,” said the Minister.