There is no way to say whether South Africa’s 21-day lockdown will be sufficient in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, and government will review its effectiveness close to the end of the period, says Health minister Zweli Mkhize.
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday (31 March), Mkhize said that irrespective of when the lockdown is lifted, it won’t be back to ‘life as normal’ for South Africa.
“Whatever happens after the 21-days we must know that our behaviour must change completely,” he said.
“If we can stick to the guidelines that have been given then we can make an impact on the number of infections. It will not be the same as the other countries, but if we take the lessons from other countries we can make a difference. ”
Mkhize also warned that the country will likely see an increase in other viral infections -such as influenza – as the country moves towards the winter months. This means it is important for the country to get on top of the coronavirus now, he said.
“Right now we have three weeks. It’s the three weeks we need to deal with the rate of infection. Obviously we will not have life as normal after the 31 days. There needs to be an adjustment.”
Life wont be back to normal after the lockdown. Lockdown worked in China and they are now no 4 raging ahead with prevention . South Korea also dropped to no 13 in the world.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) March 31, 2020
Mkhize said that there are now 1,353 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, as of 31 March 2020. He said that the total number of tests in the country now stand at 39,500 with a number of patients tested a number of times. Five people have died.
“The rate of increase in the numbers is not as much as anticipated. Our modelling already shows that we are falling behind the number we thought we would reach,” he said.
“The figures we thought we would reach by the end of April was between 4,000 – 5,000, but I don’t think we will get there.”
Globally, there have been over 800,000 reported cases of infection, with 38,749 deaths. While over 172,319 people have recovered from the virus, the majority of cases (589,993) remain active, where 30,289 people remain in serious or critical condition.