The national department of health could not give clarity on Thursday morning about the 400 “new” deaths that occurred late Wednesday night after dr. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s daily Covid-19 news release was not reported.
A record number of 572 deaths were reported nationwide on Wednesday, of which 400 were in the Eastern Cape. The previous day’s death rate in the Eastern Cape was 945 and the latest figure is 1 345.
“The MEC (for health) will hopefully explain this later in her news conference,” Dr. Lwazi Manzi, Mkhize’s spokesperson, said upon inquiry.
The BBC recently aired damning footage of and reported on the dire state of affairs in the Eastern Cape health system.
Health Minister @DrZweliMkhize has instructed EC provincial government to fix issues in the health care system as soon as possible. Mkhize conducted an oversight visit to the Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. Read more about it here:https://t.co/quL5wFhOgb— Department of Health: COVID-19 (@COVID_19_ZA) July 22, 2020
However, Mkhize, who visited the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on Wednesday, does not think it is necessary to place the provincial department of health under administration, as DA MP Siviwe Gwarube demands.
Gwarube had already written a letter to Mkhize on June 17 in which she asked that the department of health in the Eastern Cape be placed under administration.
Mkhize released his response to the letter to the media late Wednesday night.
“You say in your letter to me that over the past few weeks we have seen the Eastern Cape Department of Health struggle with the peak of the virus, as well as hotspots that have caused an increase in infections and deaths. I agree with that statement. I am also sure that you will agree that we have seen how other provinces such as the Western Cape and Gauteng are also going through this, ”says Mkhize.
“Firstly, it is general information that we are seeing the whole world fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic tests and places tension on developed countries. It has undoubtedly highlighted weaknesses in our health care system. ”
He says the health department has not shied away from these weaknesses.
Mkhize further points out that he also received detailed reports from the Western Cape when the province was the focal point. He says it is clear from Gwarube’s letter that she is not aware of what happened behind the scenes in the Western Cape and how much input the national department of health had.
According to Mkhize, many of the infections in the Western Cape were among shop assistants, farm workers and factory workers.
“These people were initially in the Western Cape for work, but they come from the Eastern Cape. These people were allowed to leave the Western Cape without having been through screening tests or even tested for the viral disease. They thus ignited their communities in the Eastern Cape when they returned. ”
Mkhize says he is also aware that many health workers in the Eastern Cape are contracting the virus.
“This is of course a concern for the whole country, not just the Eastern Cape. On June 29, the Western Cape reported 3,285, KwaZulu-Natal 675 and the Eastern Cape 501 infections among health workers. ”
Mkhize says provinces are being overwhelmed by the pandemic at times.
“It is not unique and happens in the rest of the world as well. This does not mean that the national department of health must place all these provinces under administration. ”