Officials give update on Covid-19 response

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo held a press briefing at Khayelitsha District Hospital detailing the province's response to the coronavirus.

Last week Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo held a press briefing at Khayelitsha District Hospital to inform the nation about the readiness of the province to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 virus cases in the country has exceeded the 1700-mark, while the Western Cape has recorded just under 500 confirmed cases.

Before the briefing, which took place on Friday April 3, Mr Mkhize had also met with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

Mr Mkhize said more than 50 000 people had been tested across the country, with 1 749 having tested positive by the time this edition went to print on Wednesday.

At the time, there had been 13 recorded deaths in the country, among them an 80-year-old man and 81-year-old woman, both from KwaZulu-Natal and an 81-year-old woman from the Bo-Kaap.

He added that there was strong evidence which indicated that local infections may have surpassed those imported from affected countries by travellers.

He said the first few cases had largely been imported by people who had a history of travelling abroad. Now, he said, the province had seen an increase in the number of cases involving people who had no history of travelling.

He said the cases recorded in the province had been well analysed and they had been able to track down most of the patients, their history of travelling and whom they had had contact with.

“We are going to roll out mass testing. We have not run out of beds at this point in time and that is promising.

“The number of people who are in ICU is low. Most of these people that had been affected by the virus are out-patients. We can’t make projections because we are fighting a moving target hence it is important to keep yourself indoors. We want to target informal settlements and dense areas. We believe that the province’s approach is correct. The number of people who are infected has actually been delayed by the lockdown, the reduction in the number of visitors, and closing of ports.

“I have visited KZN, Gauteng, Western Cape and Free State and these are the four provinces that have the highest cases recorded.

“Last Friday there were 43 cases recorded. In terms of our projections, the number that we see now will soon change as soon as we go out there to test our people,” he said.

He said it was key to reduce the spread of the virus so that when the flu season starts hospitals were not overwhelmed as more people usually visited hospital with pneumonia and flu symptoms during winter.

Dr Mbombo, said they had identified Town Two and Ilitha in Khayelitsha as the first areas where they would start conducting mass screenings, saying it was important to take the services to the community so that they could test more people – and Khayelitsha already has two cases.

Dr Mbombo said they will would also conduct the mass screening in Philippi where one person had tested positive.

Chairperson of Khayelitsha Health Forum, Mzanywa Ndibongo said they were satisfied with the response plans of provincial government and happy that all stakeholders were playing their part in trying to fight the virus.