The Minister of Health on Wednesday morning painted a relatively positive picture of the current situation regarding Covid-19 in South Africa.
During a virtual meeting, Zweli Mkhize referred to data obtained by his department on the number of Covid-19 cases reported in various provinces since March. From this it appears that the number of new cases in several provinces has already started to decrease. This while all provinces still have enough hospital beds and the rate at which people die due to the virus has also decreased.
According to these data, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng have already reached a peak in the number of new daily cases, and have been declining systematically for at least the past three weeks. However, it seems that the cases in KwaZulu-Natal are now starting to increase sharply. This province currently has 85 986 cases and it is expected that it will soon be more than in the Western Cape, where 97 261 people have tested positive so far.
“We are cautiously optimistic that we have reached the peak in most parts of the country, but it is actually too early to say for sure. We are also afraid that as soon as we lift all regulations and stop applying the basic health measures, the numbers will start to increase rapidly again, ”Mkhize said.
He says his department initially thought that the decrease in the number of daily tests performed could contribute to the decrease in cases. “However, if we look at the number of hospital admissions, it is clear that there are indeed fewer people who infect Covid-19.” South Africa performed less than 20,000 Covid-19 tests on Thursday, compared to about 50,000 tests two weeks ago. Mkhize also said that South Africa’s numbers for testing compare well with those of the rest of the world.
Mkhize further pointed out that South Africa has not yet reached its capacity for hospital beds in any of the provinces and is currently seeing a decrease in the number of people being admitted to hospitals due to Covid-19. “There is no area where we have no place for hospital patients. We can now confirm that the number of Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and even deaths is less than we initially expected. ”
The minister is also positive about the decline in the number of Covid-19-related deaths in hospitals’ intensive care units. “According to several studies, this number has decreased by between 25% and 40% since the drug dexamethasone was used in hospitals in June. “The death rate in intensive care units is also much less than the 80% recorded at the beginning of the pandemic.”
Mkhize also spoke out about reports that health workers are getting sick and even dying due to a shortage of personal protective equipment for these workers. “Several unions have already expressed their dissatisfaction with this and we are particularly concerned about reports that a doctor at the Dr. George Mukhari Hospital [in Pretoria] has died due to a lack of these products. The department is currently investigating the case. “