Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, this week was very frank about the state of the Corona outbreak in South Africa, lamenting that the country needs to be proactive in the manner in which we contain the virus.
- We do not yet have a true picture of the size of the problem.
- We will focus on dismantling the infection cycle by proactive action, rather than a reactive approach.
- I appealed for a focus on implementation and less on arguments and debates.
- There can never be a perfect plan in a battle
- Each person’s actions will count in the chain of the coronavirus infection
- The release of a lockdown may have a huge rebound effect of releasing every constraint that made the infection slow down and we may have a runaway train with no way to apply brakes.
On Friday, April 3, the number of Covid-19 positive cases in the Eastern Cape rose to 17. South Africa is at 1 462 cases and the number of deaths stands at five, with the Health Ministry still awaiting the reports of two more deaths. Mkhize said it is time for new strategies to be developed.
High on his priority list is the pro-active Covid-19 home visits program which will see the deployment of 10 000 Community Health Care workers for door-to-door and mass community-based screenings, referral for clinic testing, quarantine of suspected cases and appropriate care for Covid-19 patients.
“993 strategic priority wards have been identified and each province has been requested to start working on this strategy. 67 mobile laboratories will be deployed to all districts and metropolitan municipalities with the capacity of 5 000 tests in 24 hours. When we reach full capacity, we will be able to process 30 000 tests per 24 hours,” he detailed.
The project will first be introduced in the Eastern Cape in Elliotdale (Xhorha) in the Amatole District Municipality on Monday, April 6, 2020.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Right to Care were responsible for mapping out the most vulnerable populations. The President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief funded District Support Partners will support provinces in this Program.
“Our authorities are working round the clock to assess the efficacy of Rapid antibody tests in our context. This means we will go out, look for and find patients and not wait for them in hospital. There must be clearly defined targets at district and sub-district levels structures with a clear short command line led by experienced professionals who can take clinical decisions quickly and act on the spot,” said Mkhize.
Provincial MECs have been instructed to reduce the hospital burden and free up beds through early discharges. They must procure additional beds and dedicated treatment centres where only Covid-19 patients will be treated in every town.
As health workers move into communities, they must start with the symptomatic and then extending to the greater community. The government will set up surveillance and start isolation treatment of patients and quarantine of contacts at an accelerated pace.
He encouraged the release from hospitals of those patients that can be managed as outpatients and reduce hospital patient load. Every institution, that is hospitals or clinics, must do daily reports of suspected or confirmed cases.
“Based on personal observations the pounding of Corona has started and it will intensify from this week and we may see rising mortality rates,” warned Mkhize.