Covid-19: Cases increase to 5 647 as Mkhize shares SA’s coronavirus approach with WHO Africa
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“Government activities are led by a sound scientific base of a group of scientists, researchers and clinicians, who are at the back of guiding/making projections of Covid-19, and using that to guide government,” he said.
The guidance prompted the government to prepare for a large number of cases in hospitals, according to Mkhize.
“The numbers, which we might end up getting, will be much higher than the current capacity. Thus, we took a view that we needed to take containment measures to flatten the curve and we didn’t have to wait for the avalanche to descend on our health facilities,” he said.
South Africa initially went into a three-week lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, which was then extended by two weeks.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a risk-adjusted strategy, which includes the country going to Level 4 on Friday. This stage allows for some economic activity to continue while the government manages the spread of the deadly virus.
The minister added that the government had deployed over 60 000 community healthcare workers, reinforced by non-governmental organisations, to assist with the programme on the ground.
“At this point, six million people have been screened for symptoms and temperatures in communities where there are contacts, and where it is densely populated,” he explained.
The minister noted how the lockdown had assisted South Africa in flattening the curve – it stopped large meetings, closed borders, maintained physical distancing and instituted basic hygiene rules.
“The first five weeks flattened what would have been an exponential rise, now we are seeing a different trajectory. We have now broken down the country into five different levels from 1, low risk, to 5, high risk.
“All of this means we have gained time, but our message is clear that it is the scientific research which guides the response to Covid-19. We are hopeful that we have averted the first storm,” he said.