JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has raised concerns about the increasing number of coronavirus cases in South Africa, with the country now reporting an average of more than 2,000 new cases a day.
Speaking to 702, Mkhize said that after a decrease in cases over July and August, the number of daily cases has slowly ‘crept up’ over the last three weeks.
“I am very concerned and I think it is important that all South Africans should be concerned. The real issue is that the numbers should be going down or stabilising at a lower level,” he said.
He said that at the start of the lockdown most South Africans took health and safety messaging seriously, but that this has been replaced with complacency as people fail to wear masks and ‘act like life has returned to normal’.
“The numbers (show) pockets of cluster outbreaks and certainly we have seen that in some provinces the numbers are becoming prominent.
“A few weeks back we were concerned about the Western Cape, although that seems to have settled, and now we are concerned about the Eastern Cape. ”
Mkhize said that there are some areas of the province which are seeing more cases than during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown. The number of hospital admissions and deaths attributed to Covid-19 are also increasing.
There are also concerns around increased movement and socialising during the festive season. Despite these concerns, Mkhize said that government is not considering a lockdown over the Christmas period yet.
“At the moment, we are not at a point where we are talking a (harder) lockdown, but everyone needs to know that they are supposed to observe all containment measures.
“But if we are not able to contain, and an entire area sees a huge spread, then that will make us look at tighter measures. We have not at this point decided that there will be restrictions or a lockdown during Christmas, but it is a matter of concern.”
Mkhize said that if during the festive season there continues to be mass movement, unsafe social gatherings and a failure to wear masks, the country is likely to see an increase in cases and that a return to restrictions is possible.
South Africa reported 2,888 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday (18 November), taking the total reported to 757,144.
Deaths have reached 20,556 (a daily increase of 123), while recoveries have climbed to 701,534, leaving the country with a balance of 35,054 active cases.