Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that he is concerned about an apparent spike in coronavirus cases in South Africa.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mkhize said that this wave in cases will be considered by the Department of Health as it makes new recommendations to government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
“As government, we have a responsibility to alert you when we see concerning trends. It would be irresponsible of us to ignore ‘small flames’ that we see redeveloping in some parts of the country,” he said.
Mkhize said that similar trends were seen in South Africa at the start of its coronavirus pandemic, which quickly led to an increased burden on the healthcare sector.
“I wish to bring to the attention of all South Africans that our epidemiological reports are showing that in the country, over the last seven days there has been an increase of 9.1% in new cases. Similarly, over the last 14 days, there has been an increase of 10.7%.
“We are also seeing concerning increases in some of the provinces. To illustrate this, in the last 7 days, there was a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western Cape.”
Mkhize said that the province recorded a 42% increase in new infections. He said that government’s terminology defines this significant spike in new cases in the Western Cape as a ‘resurgence’.
“The Western Cape Provincial Health Department has identified specific clusters that are responsible for the increase in cases, and has advised that each of these clusters has been investigated and a detailed outbreak response is being mounted.
“We have noted that the single biggest cluster outbreak has been identified to be in the Southern Sub-district in the Cape Metro, and this has been associated with a super-spreader event in a bar.
“We await further reports from the Western Cape health response teams who are now required to target the sub-districts with a high increase of new cases over the last two weeks.”
Mkhize encouraged all provinces to pay attention to these increasing numbers and quickly mount a response, including contact tracing and quarantine.
“We must mention that the rate of new infections and deaths will inform the recommendations that the Health Department makes to the National Coronavirus Council,” he said.
“As we continue to monitor the development of a vaccine, the only weapon we possess as a country is our social behaviour and constant adherence to health protocols. All of us must take this responsibility and always encourage those around us.”