Mkhize explains how South Africa’s district-based lockdown will work

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has outlined how South Africa’s new district-based lockdown will work.

Speaking in an interview with eNCA, Mkhize said that the government has tracked the rate of infection at a per-population basis, with a number of metropolitan areas highlighted as areas of concern.

“Obviously the Cape Town area has shown us a feature which is not seen in other parts (of the country) and that is what we call  cluster outbreaks.

“This is where people in an area explode the numbers. That tells us that there is a new trend we must watch out for and we are all concerned about all the metros.”

When looking at specific areas that are ‘hotspots’, Mkhize said that there are around eight or nine areas in the country which are a cause for concern.

He noted that these are also largely the areas with high economic activity.

The areas specifically mentioned by Mkhize include:

  • Johannesburg;
  • Tshwane;
  • Ekurhuleni;
  • Cape Town;
  • The Garden Route;
  • Nelson Mandela Bay;
  • Durban (eThekwini);
  • KwaDukuza.
  • Mangaung (Bloemfontein)

Mkhize said that government plans to monitor all of the above areas, and cannot allow the relaxation of restrictions in these districts.

“We will need to bring in a new strategy wherein each of the districts or metros are sub-divided into clusters of wards where we will station a multi-disciplinary team of experts.”

He added that each of these districts will be awarded an individual lockdown level based on the reported number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. These levels will then be reviewed by the government every two weeks.

“Depending on the average active cases per 100,000 people, districts will be individually assigned levels of lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus,” Mkhize said.

The district approach, has already been met with some resistance, however.

Gauteng premier David Makhura, has warned that a district-level lockdown is unlikely to work in the province due to the integrated nature of districts.

“In Gauteng you can’t have level 3 in Ekurhuleni and level 1 in Johannesburg and level 2 in Tshwane. We are an integrated city region. People move, they work and live in these spaces simultaneously,” he said in a media briefing on Thursday.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that he will also approach government to ensure that the whole province is moved to level 3 restrictions.

“The Western Cape Government will use the process of consultation announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa to make clear our position that the entire province must move down to level 3 as soon as possible, preferably before the end of May 2020,” he said.

Jump in deaths 

Dr Mkhize announced that there are now 12,739 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa as of Thursday (14 May).

This is an increase of 665 cases from the 12,074 cases reported on Wednesday, with the country having recorded its two highest daily totals over the prior 48-hour period, including 724 new infections in a single day on Wednesday.

Dr Mkhize said on Thursday (14 May), that the total number of deaths has now reached 238. This is an increase of 19 deaths from 219 reported before. There have been 5,676 recoveries.

“We have managed to flatten the curve to some extent due to the lockdown. Flattening the curve is an ongoing process and we must continue to battle this,” the minister said.

“We need the public to help us to continue to fight the pandemic. To fight this outbreak we need everyone to co-operate and create conditions to reduce the spread of the virus. Our main focus is we have lives to save.”

Mkhize said that 403,018 tests have been conducted with 16,666 done in the last 24 hour cycle.

Read: You can now freely shop online in South Africa – but no alcohol and cigarettes

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Mkhize explains how South Africa’s district-based lockdown will work