Department of Health
Speaking to the national assembly yesterday on the COVID-19 pandemic, the health minister, Zweli Mkhize, declared that South Africa has now reached the surge.
“The storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving. As a nation we have every reason to be united in this fight against COVID-19.”
The minister called on all political parties, social partners and every citizen to work with government in fighting the virus together.
“As we continue this battle, we look beyond our differences and ensure that wherever we are, we and those around us, change our behaviour and observe all measures announced to contain the spread of this virus.”
According to the minister, everyone has a duty to not only protect ourselves but those around us.
The minister pointed out that due to the increasing number of cases, the less than 5 and greater than 5 number of active case definition of a hotspot will need to be revised.
139 quarantine facilities have been activated across the country representing a total of 12 532 beds.
Currently, the Community Screening and Testing Programme initiated on 7 April 2020 has ensured that more than 20 million people have been screened and 302 713 suspected cases referred for testing.
The minister also announced that sufficient PPE stock is available to meet the requirements of frontline health care workers.
The injectable form of the drug dexamethasone is available in the country and will immediately be used in selected patients.
Another drug, Remdesivir, that can reduce the hospital stay of COVID-19 patients is being used in clinical trials.
“As much as we look forward to an effective and safe vaccine, and to more effective therapies for COVID-19, current clinical management relies mainly on supportive measures, including the provision of oxygen. South Africa has a well-developed medical oxygen supply system, but careful planning and management will be needed to ensure that every patient who needs oxygen is able to access it.”
The minister also highlighted that, while the epidemic is predicted to peak nationally in mid-August, it is projected to do so at a lower level meaning that fewer people were infected in May and June than was previously predicted.
The health department is also implementing the Surge Strategy ensuring that capacity for COVID-19 is increased while at the same time continuing to deliver other health services to health care users.