Mkhize says ‘localised lockdown’ could be used in South Africa, as coronavirus infections rise faster than expected

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has provided clarity around South Africa’s current lockdown and the possibility of reintroducing further restrictions.

In a series of tweets published on Tuesday morning (30 June), Mkhize said that government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has not discussed the possibility of introducing further lockdown restrictions.

However, he noted that the government could still consider location-based lockdowns if necessary.

“There has not been any decision taken (to have another lockdown) and certainly the NCCC does not take lightly a decision of that nature,” he said.

“There may be (a) need in some areas for restrictions, it may not be national but localised. But no such decision has been taken as yet.”

However, Mkhize indicated that some areas which may require a greater response than others.

“One of the challenges with Gauteng is the fact that you have different metropolitan areas, which is one ecosystem. As we move into the future we need to be open-minded as to what our needs are.”

“We could not sustain the lockdown the way it was. We needed people to get back to their jobs and for the economy to be revived. We needed to do that under new circumstances where we use masks, social distance and sanitise our hands.”

Higher surge than expected

Mkhize also warned of a “surge” in coronavirus cases – particularly in Gauteng.

“The numbers are picking up, the surge is on the way. Particularly in Gauteng the numbers are locking up faster than anticipated,” he said.

He added that the Western Cape had also seen a surge in cases over the course of June.

“(The Western Cape) in June went up by 40,000 people, but in Gauteng as of last night we are close to 3,000 per day. The problem is too many people getting sick at the same time. We want to plead to people to use the masks, use hand washing and practise social distancing.”

“During the month of July we are going to see larger numbers getting infected, going into August. We are hoping to manage the situation during this time.”

On Monday, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said that the province may look at 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”.

Read: 144,264 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 2,529

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Mkhize says ‘localised lockdown’ could be used in South Africa, as coronavirus infections rise faster than expected