Cape Town and Joburg may need tighter restrictions: Mkhize

Coronavirus hotspots like Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini may require tighter restrictions, as government starts taking a more granular approach in assessment of the outbreak in the country.

In a statement published on Sunday evening (10 May), health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that while there has been good progress in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak to date, with the peak still to hit, and flu season around the corner, communities are likely face health pressures in the coming months.

“We are dealing with a dynamic situation,” Mkhize said. “We will be monitoring and evaluating the progress in various parts (of the country). It must be expected that there may be areas where it might not be the best way, just to let everything get back to normal.

“In some instances we might need to consider lockdowns, and some instances where we might need to consider heightened interventions of various forms.

“On all these issues, we will need your support and cooperation. We still have a long way to go – there has been good progress up until now, but we expect that a lot of pressure is still coming to our communities, especially with the flu season coming,” he said.

Mkhize’s latest sentiments echoes a position he expressed on Saturday evening, commenting on the alarming rise in new infections in the Western Cape, where almost 50% of total positive cases have been reported.

He said particular focus must be placed on working with healthcare professionals in both the private and public sectors to ensure that those who test positive are properly isolated and receiving the necessary care.

Despite rising numbers of infection, several analysts and experts have also called for government to start opening up the economy more rapidly.

Stephan Malherbe, chief executive of Genesis Analytics, said that South Africa has been successful in easing lockdown restrictions in most of the areas identified by the World Health Organistion, but has failed to take a logical approach in opening up the economy.

Here, he said, a differentiated approach with the lockdown to various areas was very important.

While the Western Cape is clearly the epicentre of infection in South Africa, residents in smaller towns in the country are pleading to government not to paint all areas with the same brush.

Speaking to Rapport, residents of Kuruman in the Northern Cape pointed out that their small town – where approximately 13,000 people live – has so far been untouched by the coronavirus, yet they are subject to the same level 4 restrictions as the rest of the country.

Data published this week pointed to the damage being done to the economy as a result of the umbrella lockdown approach, including projections of GDP decline between 6% and 16%, job losses between 1 million and 7 million people, and a potential loss in tax revenue as high as R285 billion.

Business for SA (B4SA) has stated that quickly moving to a level 2 lockdown will save over one million jobs, while still allowing people to keep safe, and follow Covid-19 health protocols.

Read: It’s time for South Africa to move to the next phase of fighting the coronavirus: analysts

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Cape Town and Joburg may need tighter restrictions: Mkhize