The “early flare-up” of Covid-19 infections in the Western Cape is an indication that a similar explosion can happen elsewhere, hence there will be a “focused intervention” in the Western Cape, Deputy Minister of Health Joe Phaahla told parliament’s health committees.
This after several ANC MPs expressed their concern to the department of health at Wednesday’s meeting of the portfolio committee on health and the select committee on health and social services.
The committees were being briefed on the health department’s annual performance plan, budget and strategy for 2021 to 2025.
ANC MP Tshilidzi Munyai wanted the national government to intervene in the DA-governed Western Cape’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Sometimes they behave like they’re a federal administration,” he said.
“We can’t allow the Western Cape to behave differently. We are a unitary government. Each and every province must toe the line.”
ANC MP Mxolisa Sokatsha said he is “very worried about how people are treated in the Western Cape”.
So was Maurencia Gillion, chairperson of the select committee.
“Our people in the Western Cape are frightened. They are especially, especially concerned. What is happening in the Western Cape is not at all good.”
She asked for an indication of what the national government was doing to support the Western Cape.
“Is there some intervention coming from national to assist our staff on the frontline?” Gillion asked.
The department’s chief operating officer Gail Andrews said they had had a number of meetings with the Western Cape’s department of health to determine an approach to assist them. They had done the same with other provinces. She said they had data on when to expect peaks in each province, and plan accordingly.
“We continue to try and support them,” she said.
She said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was “very keen” to send a team to assist the Western Cape, together with the “Cuban brigade”.
On the Western Cape, Phaahla said: “Indeed, we’re all concerned and we have been discussing with the minister a focused intervention.
“We see the problem of the Western Cape as a national problem.”
He said the Western Cape had an “early flare-up” and it is an indication that a “similar explosion” can happen elsewhere.
While the committees met with the department, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced during a digital press conference that there had been 39 new Covid-19-related deaths recorded on Tuesday.
By 1pm on Wednesday, the Western Cape had 11,072 cases and 211 deaths, while 100,721 tests had been done.