Next week will be important for Covid-19 cases and lockdown in South Africa: Mkhize

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that South Africa is beginning to see the benefits of its latest level 3 lockdown and its ability to manage a second surge in Covid-19 cases.

In a media briefing on Monday (18 January), Mkhize said that the first ‘green shoots’ are appearing and that the country appears to be nearing an ‘inflection point’ and plateau in Covid-19 cases.

However, he cautioned against complacency and warned that a resurgence could happen at any point.

The Health minister said that he was specifically concerned about holidaymakers travelling back to Gauteng from coastal provinces which could cause a spike in cases.

“We are hoping that what we are seeing now is an indications that (cases) will start declining and we need to see next week whether there is any new impact from people coming back from the festive season.

“This is what we thought the real pressure could come from, but the adjusted level 3 restrictions have actually assisted a lot.”

He urged South Africans to continue the wearing of masks, practicing social distancing, and using sanitisers. “We believe that if we continue, we will actually see the plateauing of infections.”

Mkhize also warned against overcrowding at funerals which have proven to be super-spreader events. “We still get reports of  funerals attended by a large number of people,” he said.

“This resurgence has happened much faster than we anticipated. We need to know that how we behave determines the way Covid-19 is going to spread. We may be seeing a reduction in the numbers in the next few weeks, but we need to continue wearing masks

“Our focus now is, whilst we want to make sure there is good management at hospitals, we need to begin to create an awareness that there is going to be a very important need to embrace the vaccines.”

As of 17 January, South Africa reported 12,267 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total confirmed cases to 1,337,926.

Deaths have reached 37,105, a daily increase of 254, while recoveries have climbed to 1,098,441, leaving a balance of 202,380 active cases.

Read: South Africa is better prepared for a third wave of Covid-19: Ramaphosa

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Next week will be important for Covid-19 cases and lockdown in South Africa: Mkhize