Health Minister hints South Africa moving to level 1

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HEALTH Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has given a reassuring account of the country’s fight against Covid-19, telling Radio Islam International on Wednesday that South Africa could soon move to level 1 of the nationwide lockdown in a matter of days.

This comes as the country’s Covid-19 infection rate has slowed down during alert level 2 of the lockdown although the country currently has over 640 000 positive cases and over 15 000 Covid-19 related deaths since the very first Covid-19 case on South African shores was discovered in early March.

We will have to move to level one and get closer to normal activities. We hope we can still contain the numbers and the past two weeks have been very encouraging with no upsurge and we hope that if we go to the next level, the upsurge is going to be less,” said Mkhize.

He said that caution still needed to be exercised, particularly in terms of keeping measures with regard to major gatherings but there was a need to start opening up more economic activities to get the country’s severely battered economy back on its feet.

Mkhize said that although it was not yet decided when exactly the country would move to level 1 with the matter still under discussion, President Cyril Ramaphosa would in the “next fews days” address and give the country a sense of direction.

He added that even when the country does move to level 1 of the lockdown, precautionary measures such as the wearing of masks in public spaces, social distancing, hand washing and sanitizers would continue and people should get used to it as the new normal.

“We will be preparing for people to start easing to the next level and when that has been announced, we will move on to that level but it’s not decided yet,” Mkhize said.

He said that with the country currently on level 2, South Africa was now over the surge as the months of June, July, August were the worst for the country as it had been predicted by various models.

“We want to thank all the South Africans for taking heed of our precautionary measures, we think they would have made a contribution, as the use of masks, hand sanitizers, washing of hands and social distancing has assisted quite a lot in containing the infection,” Mkhize said.

With South Africa having been in the top five of the countries with the highest infection rate, Mkhize said that this was due to the easing of the lockdown and opening up of economic activities which had seen people begin moving around with the virus causing a sharp rise from around 40 000 infections to the now over 640 000 infections.

“Nevertheless we have seen the numbers decreasing and there are a lot of factors to do with that. One of the major factors is that we have embarked on these containment measures,” said Mkhize.

However, Mkhize warned that South Africa was not yet out of the woods as infections may still rise as was now happening in countries such as Spain, America, Iran and Korea.

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