‘No decision yet’ on when SA will move into Level 1, says Mkhize

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize briefs media about South Africa's plans to fight the coronavirus before it reaches our shores, at the Southern Sun OR Tambo in Kempton Park, 1 March 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

The health minister says the country may be ‘over the surge’ but cautions the country is ‘not out of the woods’ yet.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has said South Africa is over the Covid-19 surge, however, he cautioned that the country was “not out of the woods” yet.

During an interview on Wednesday on Radio Islam, Mkhize said since the first recorded case of Covid-19 in South Africa, the country has done its best, with the number of positive cases now over 640,000, which he said was “an indication of how much people in the country have been” infected and just over 15,000 deaths reported related to Covid-19.

“But we can safely say that we are over the surge,” Mkhize said, adding that the months of June, July and August had been the worst, just as models had predicted.

“However, we have found that it was not as many people as the model had suggested,”  Mkhize said, thanking all South Africans “for taking heed of our precautionary measures” which positively contributed to “containing the infection”.

Moving from Level 5 to Level 4 and to Level 3 of the lockdowns saw an increase in the number of infections, Mkhize said.

He said a number of factors were behind the current decrease in the number of infections and that these include “one of the major factors” which is “the containment measures” the government has embarked on.

“And there will be other factors in the environment,” he said.

In the past week, South Africa has dropped from number five globally in terms of the number of infections to number eight, Mkhize said, adding that it appears it would drop further.

“But we are not out of the woods, we must always be careful because it may still rise again like it’s happening in Spain, it’s happening in America, it’s happening in Iran, Korea, and so on,” Mkhize said.

He said the government was pleased that there was no increase when the country moved to Level 2 of the lockdown, “which has really been good news for us because we do want to get back to normal activity and so we will have to move to Level 1 and get closer to normal activity”.

The minister said it was hoped that the numbers would be contained and that it was encouraging that in the past two weeks there had been no upsurge.

He said it was hoped that when the country moves to Level 1 “the upsurge is going to be less” but he added that measures such as the restriction on gatherings would still need to be in place though there is a need to open up economic activity so as to get the country’s economy “back to its normal footing”.

Opening up the economy was important so that people could get jobs, earn an income and survive on their own without needing further assistance from the government, the minister said.

He said it was still too early to give a date on when the country could move to Level 1.

“We still discussing all of those issues,” he said, adding that President Cyril Ramaphosa will in the next few days give a sense of direction on that regard.

“But we will be preparing for people to start easing to the next level and when that has been announced focus we will move on to that level,” he said, adding that no decision has been taken yet on whether the country should move to Level 1.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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