Article by: Emma Clayfield
President Cyril Ramaphosa has engaged with the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) this afternoon, speaking on topics of public interest, around the scourge of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Now, after 65 days of lockdown, we can reflect on how effective this phase of our strategy has been.Have we achieved what we set out to achieve?
The President affirmed the responsibility of the government during this pandemic by saying:
Our strategy has therefore been to prevent a massive spike in infections by delaying the rate of infections, and to simultaneously prepare our health system for the anticipated surge in cases and put in place broader public health interventions.
The move to alert level 3 on Monday 1 June marks a significant shift in our approach to the disease, from lockdown to intensive public health management said Ramaphosa.
The President said; In the coming weeks, we should expect an exponential rise in cases, and we need to deploy all the means at our disposal to continue to flatten the curve.
This is a case fatality rate of 2.1%, which is far lower than the global average of 6.4% and the European average of 8.5%. Our priority now must be to ensure that we have sufficient health system capacity to provide life-saving care to those who may need it.
President #Ramaphosa: We have started to flatten the curve.
The latest report is that South Africa has 30,967 confirmed cases.
Of those, around 52% of people have recovered.
The lockdown significantly reduced the rate of infection.
Before lockdown the doubling time of coronavirus cases was 2 days. During lockdown it was 15 days. During the easing of the lockdown – with the implemententation of level 4 – it has reduced to 12 days.
The Western Cape has, so far, been hardest hit by the disease.
It currently accounts for nearly 65% of all confirmed cases, and the doubling time of cases is 9 days, as opposed to 12 nationally.
Ramaphosa said It is of the utmost importance that we reduce the rate of spread in the Western Cape and we do everything possible to prevent other parts of the country from following a similar trajectory. South Africa has recorded 643 deaths.
With the assistance of various governments, companies and foundations, we have been able to mobilise significant quantities of personal protection equipment, other medical suppliers and ventilators.
To date, over 27,000 beds in the public sector have been allocated to COVID-19 patients. The field hospitals that are currently being constructed will have around 13,000 beds.
Another important element of our public health response is contact tracing. Nationally, around 96% of identified contacts are being traced, although this number is significantly lower in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
Still, this remains an area of weakness. We are currently identifying on average 2 contacts for each confirmed case, whereas countries like South Korea have been identifying around 20 contacts per case.
We have improved the capacity of our health system.
President Ramaphosa: However, with such a high proportion of asymptomatic cases, we need to complement screening with a range of other preventative measures.
We also need to be more targeted in our testing due to the severe global shortage of test kits and supplies.
China will give Africa 30 Million test kits a month, 10 000 ventilators and 80 Million Masks. -Ramaphosa
The supplies will be carried via SAA, Ethiopian Airways and Kenyan Airways.
Ramaphosa concedes that the backtrack on cigarette sales in Level 3, should have been communicated by him. He was not undermined. The decision he says, is based on “scientific advice”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded that government made a mistake in the way it communicated the collective decision over the cigarette ban. The President is responding to questions from the SA National Editors Forum via video link.
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