The government will consider imposing strict restrictions on focal points if an increase in Covid-19 infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals in the affected areas.
Dr. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in an interview with SAfm radio station on Tuesday that although the Covid 19 command council has not yet decided on stricter mitigation measures in focal points, the option should be considered.
“We believe the situation needs to be analyzed to see what the benefit is. In some local areas this may be necessary again. If the infection rate gets too high, we have to intervene, ”says Mkhize.
However, medical experts say they doubt that a strict restriction in focal lengths will be effective. In addition, this can cause further damage to the economy.
Dr. Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape Department of Health, said when asked that the Western Cape health system was working, but was not about to collapse.
Spokespeople for the health departments of Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, the other provinces Mkhize is concerned about, could not be reached for comment.
According to the Department of Collaborative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the following metro areas are classified as hot spots: Johannesburg, Tswhane, Ekurhuleni, Ethekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, East London and Cape Town, as well as the Cape Winelands, the West Coast and Overberg, in the Western Cape, the Chris Hani district, in the Eastern Cape, and the Ilembe district in KwaZulu-Natal.
Prof. Shabir Madhi, a chemist and member of the medical advisory committee on Covid-19, says it is difficult to comment because it is unclear whether Mkhize believes restrictions will apply to entire focal points, or only to focal areas.
“Specific focal points can only be determined if the government’s test strategy is successful, which is not the case. However, hospital admissions can be looked at to determine if a given area is a focal point, ”says Madhi.
“There are many logistical challenges that will bring about such a restriction. How will the government prevent people from moving in and out of focal points? It is not even clear whether such a restriction will ease the burden on the health system, ”says Madhi.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association (SAMS), believes that a strict restriction in focal points will make no difference at all.
“It’s too late now, because the viral disease is already everywhere. Moreover, this time people will not disturb the government. ”
Moreover, restrictions are not sustainable because the Covid 19 pandemic will peak several times over the next two years, Coetzee says.
Madhi has also said before that if Covid-19 is like older coronaviruses, it will appear in flags in the next year or two.
Coetzee asks why people are waiting for the government to tell them if Covid-19 can be restrained when people take responsibility by complying with health measures.
“But instead, people stand in queues at malls as if the virus no longer exists. If that happens, there will be a shortage of hospital beds in a month, ”Coetzee warns.
Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt says big damage will be done to the already crushed economy if the government strictly limits entire cities.
“The cities are the economic heart chambers of South Africa and therefore it will be a major blow to the economy. If the government has the accurate data, and imposed restrictions in certain residential areas, the result will not be that great, ”says Roodt.