Despite the huge surge that made South Africa rank with the fifth highest number of positive coronavirus cases in the world, there are reasons to be hopeful says Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Speaking in a virtual Covid-19 conference, Mkhize said that the country has successfully mobilised support from medical experts who advise on protocols to put in place for containment, to control cluster outbreaks and to guide day to day management.
He added that government’s decision to implement lockdown based on an alert level system as well as the slow re-opening of the economy is starting to bear fruit.
“The Western Cape has passed the peak and maintained a plateau for the past two months, while early indications of a promising decline are observed in Eastern Cape and Gauteng,” he said.
“For these reasons we have to intensify the non-pharmaceutical interventions and emphasise behavioural change to force the reduction of new infections in all provinces.”
He added that the country’s recovery rate is encouraging.
“It has increased to 64% indicating that more people have overcome the infection than those who are infected and test positive.
“Lessons on case management and discovery of effective medications such as dexamethasone, early use of oxygen – including a preference for non-invasive oxygen support – and other treatment regiments has resulted in a low mortality consistently below 2%.
“Our current fatalities stand at 7,812 and we extend our condolences to all South Africans that have lost loved ones due to Covid-19”.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) July 31, 2020
Despite this positivity, Mkhize said that there are still a number of areas of concern and interventions that the government was still working on. These include:
- Bed capacity to manage the surge is an ongoing battle;
- Triaging mechanisms in facilities to ensure nosocomial (originating in a hospital) transmission is disrupted, continues to be re-emphasised and refined;
- Contact tracing for quarantine and isolation remains key to breaking the cycle of community transmission;
- Strain on Personal Protective Equipment availability due to high demand, overutilisation, sometimes poor quality, corruption, price gouging and maldistribution now requires our urgent attention and innovative stock surveillance solutions;
- Increasing human resources for health of all categories, expedite the filling of vacancies and recruit new staff;
- Additional ventilators and oxygen supply is pivotal and the National Ventilator Programme is an important development in this regard.