Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says that the province is preparing for the worst of the coronavirus and that it hopes to be ready for a peak in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.
Speaking in an interview with 702 on Monday (29 June), Masuku said that the provincial government is most concerned about shopping malls as well as central business districts.
This is because of higher movement in these areas which give rise to a risk of higher infection, he said.
He added that the government was concerned about the deliberate breach of lockdown regulations, not only by the taxi industry but also by ordinary citizens.
“People are even starting to deliberately organise parties and deliberately organising weddings. This is something we are trying to actively discourage.”
Masuku said that the province may also look an introducing a stricter lockdown. He said that the provincial government was specifically looking at the introduction of an ‘intermittent lockdown’ which has been used in other countries.
“(Under an intermittent lockdown) there will be a period of time where (society) will be open and there will be a period of time where there will be a lockdown to contain the infection.
“It has helped in other countries and the literature has shown that it could be one of the options. It is matter that it is under discussion and we are actually considering it going forward.
“If we have the healthcare sector collapse in Gauteng, it generally means that the whole care system in the country has collapsed. So we have to do almost everything to protect and save lives going forward”.
A new epicentre
In an effort to tighten government’s grip on the impending surge of Covid-19 cases, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he will deploy ministers and deputy ministers to every district of the country to support the work of provincial health authorities.
Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that this will be in addition to getting a line of sight on specific challenges in the districts.
Gauteng is likely to face increased scrutiny as Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned that the province will soon become the coronavirus epicentre of South Africa.
#COVID19 | GAUTENG COVID-19 SUB-DISTRICT BREAKDOWN
— GautengGov (@GautengProvince) June 29, 2020
In a statement on Sunday evening (28 June), Mkhize said that the entire country is likely to see an increase in cases, but it will be the country’s economic hubs which will be hardest hit.
“We are seeing a rapid rise in the cumulative number of positive Covid-19 cases indicating that, as we had expected, we are approaching a surge during the latter winter months of July and August,” he said.
“It is anticipated that while every province will, unfortunately witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise – beginning with Gauteng and Western Cape and followed by Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.”
He added that in coming days, Gauteng will emerge as the province with the highest Covid-19 numbers. Mkhize said that the factors contributing to this trend are:
- Inward migration;
- The large population (especially in metros like Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane);
- Increased congregating which spurs cluster outbreaks;
- The level to which people are able to adapt to new behaviours such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.
“When the national lockdown was eased to level three, there was a large inward movement of people as economic activities resumed,” he said.