Article by Lindiwe Karosa
Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize announces an increase of confirmed positive cases to 1353, and a new total of 5 deaths. This follows as screening processes began today in Alexandra as a proactive preventative measure. Let’s unpack today’s events.
Pressure on testing facilities
To date, the country’s labs have tested a total of 41 072 people. The minister highlighted that the labs were presently under immense pressure and this has created a backlog. For this reason, testing has had to be moved to national laboratories which have significantly reduced this backlog. Labs can test up to 3000 a day.
Screening for hotspots
Door-to-door screenings were conducted in Alexandra today after the news that a resident who tested positive for Covid-19 failed to isolate.
Minister Mkhize stated that teams from NGOs would be converted to assist with this screening process. He emphasized that screening & testing must be escalated especially in areas that pose a risk of rapid spread. The ministry is evaluating other possible ways to screen & test people.
Protecting health workers
The increase in testing methods may cause an increase in infections. The health ministry is working hard to ensure that health workers are provided with necessary protective gear and encourages members of the frontline to raise their safety concerns as the department must address them.
Flattening the curve
Dr Zweli Mkhize highlighted how the many measures the government implemented could assist greatly in this fight. About 70% of the cases up to last week were from passengers who came into the country from abroad. Reduction of traffic in trains and taxis has also played a role in lessening the spread.
Although numbers are rising in hospitals, it is encouraging to learn that 50 people in Cape Town have recovered from the pandemic after self-isolating for 14 days.
Readiness at hospitals
The department is looking at other buildings to utilize for extra beds. There are currently 55 people admitted however the minister would like to ensure that the country is ready to accommodate larger numbers of in-patients.
Discussions with medical device manufacturers to build more ventilators are in full gear to supplement the shortage of ventilators in the country.
A means to an end
Minister Mkhize urged South Africans to please adhere to regulations of the nationwide lockdown. He reminded citizens to practice good hygiene especially when leaving the house. He also asked the nation to be compassionate towards one another and not stigmatize.