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Department of Health to recommend easing travel restrictions, alcohol sales and stopping schedules



  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says his department will recommend further easing blockade restrictions.
  • This is due to the declining number of reported Covid-19 cases nationwide.
  • Mkhize says a high level of immunity may already exist in the SA.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said his department would make recommendations to the Cabinet to ease blockade restrictions, such as those related to the curfew, the sale of alcohol, religious gatherings and travel.

In a statement Monday evening, Mkhize said the number of cases detected across the country continued to decline.

“Since August 22, we have reported less than 3,000 cases per day – at the height of the epidemic in July, we would have reported anything between 10,000 and 15,000 cases per day. Support for this decline is also a marked decline. in the persons under investigation, admissions of the general ward, admissions of the ICU, deaths and excessive deaths “, said the minister.

“Consistency in relation to these indicators assures us that indeed, we are in the middle of a coryphaeus in the pandemic.”

Mkhize said the department had previously pledged to review the restrictions periodically while reassessing the state of the South African epidemic.

READ | The latest Covid-19 numbers: 15 499 deaths, 650 749 cases and a cure rate of 88.9%

“And this is really what we have done. Noting evidence suggesting a steady decline in coronavirus transmission, like the Department of Health, we have considered easing restrictions on various aspects – such as the stop time, the sale. of alcohol, religious gatherings and Travel Restrictions – for the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), which will make final recommendations to the Cabinet.

“Regardless of the decisions made, it is important to note that the risk of Covid-19 spreading and contracting still remains and that non-pharmaceutical interventions remain important as we learn to coexist with the coronavirus,” Mkhize added.

As of Monday, the department had recorded a cumulative total of 650,749 confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa, with 579,289 recoveries and 15,499 casualties.

NICD analysis – case management

Mkhize Says National Institute on Infectious Diseases’ (NICD) Covida Supervision in the Report of Selected Hospitals of September 11 described the analysis of data collected from 459 public and private institutions nationwide.

“This report shows a clear shift in epidemic behavior with declining trends in admissions and deaths in the general ward and in the ICU. In total, 66,515 patients were studied with 4,314 currently admitted. The hospital discharge rate was 75 % while – the hospital fatality rate was 17.5% The average age for admissions was between 50 and 59 and the average age for deaths was between 60 and 69. At the height of the epidemic, these sample hospitals reported between 6,400 and 6,800 admissions per week, “Mkhize said.

WHO analysis

“South Africa has benefited significantly from the contributions of the World Health Organization (WHO) growth team that has come to strengthen our team to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mkhize added.

“The WHO team released a situation report on September 10, reflecting the 37th week of our epidemic, which confirms the decline as reported by [the] NICD. This report showed a 42% decrease in cases detected in the previous two weeks and a 28.9% decrease in deaths in the same period.

“Admission to critical care wards increased by 13.9% during this week epidemic, but conversely, admissions to general wards decreased by 43% over the same period. The average test positivity rate was recorded at 9.8%, compared to 11.4 % in the past week “.

Bed occupancy and declining oxygen demand

Bed occupancy and oxygen demand are declining, according to Mkhize.

The percentage of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients nationwide is less than 10% for non-ICU beds and less than 30% for ICU beds.

“The benefit we have seen during this period is that there has been an increased purchase of fans with 5,444 procured or received through donations and 2,848 currently awaiting delivery. This has helped us to upgrade our facilities as fans were in short supply. and there would have been a delay in providing the required health care to patients who needed it most.

“It also led us to increase local production capacity, which resulted in the production of South African fans for the first time in history.”

The minister said 20,000 fans are expected to be produced through the National Ventilation Project.

“We also have reports from Afrox, showing that oxygen demand has been declining nationwide in recent weeks.”

No PPE, no work!

Protecting front-line workers in the health sector remains of paramount importance, Mkhize said.

“We reiterate: no PPE (personal protective equipment), no work! We continue to track the numbers of health workers who are infected in each province. Our system is now directly linked to the PERSAL system, so that every health worker diagnosed with Covid-19 is immediately identified.

“As of 9/11, a cumulative total of 32,429 health care workers had been detected with the coronavirus. Sadly, 257 underwent Covid-19. We extend our condolences to all the loved ones of the deceased and thank the colleagues who cared for the heroes. ours in their last hours, “Mkhize said.

Mkhize said he was pleased that occupational health and safety (OHS) committees were set up in 3,849 public health institutions.

“According to the previous instruction, union members should be represented in all these structures. This will help in the continuous monitoring of issues affecting health workers, including where there are [a] lack of PPE “.

Non-compliance with PPE procurement processes

“We note with concern the findings of the Auditor General, which include that there were deficiencies and non-compliance with the PPE procurement processes, insufficient controls to ensure the receipt and payment of PPE and the quality level of PPE, delays in the distribution of PPE as and evidence of price valuation and [a] failure to procure PPE at market-related prices. This cannot be accepted. “This must be punished and, once all investigations have been completed, there must be consequence management for any official who may be implicated in wrongdoing or irregularity,” Mkhize warned.

Reconfiguration of the Ministerial Advisory Committee

With the change in the pandemic model, it has become necessary to reconfigure the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) for Covid-19, the minister said.

“The new MAC will consider the need to involve social and behavioral scientists, among other factors.

“Apart from the multi-sectoral MAC that focuses on community mobilization, another MAC has been set up to focus on the development of coronavirus vaccines (MACs on vaccines). This MAC will advise us on all development-related issues. of coronavirus vaccines – from monitoring and reporting on progress in our candidate studies, to advising on our purchasing options and our ability to produce vaccines in the future.This will ensure that the Department of Health and the government are kept abreast of with all the critical developments regarding the vaccine internationally, “Mkhize said

The new committee will be chaired by Professor Barry Schoub, an expert in vaccine and virology.

High level of immunity may already exist in SA

According to Mkhize, South Africa has seen an increase in setbacks, consequently raising the issue of the level of immunity that may already exist in society.

“Initial seroprevalence studies from comfort samples have shown a seroprevalence of between 29% and 40%. Interestingly, the revised models currently predict that there are probably about 12 million South Africans in total (detected and undetected) infected with coronavirus – this translates to about 20% of the population.

“We are currently launching a national prevalence study which should bring us closer to the current seroprevalence of coronavirus antibodies and give us a more accurate indication of our national immunity status. Once the national study is complete, we will communicate those results to the public.

Stay safe

“Undoubtedly, an important contributor to the decline we are seeing in coronavirus transmission is the actions of ordinary South African Africans who continue to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions. This nation has shown that with joint efforts and solidarity, it is possible to defeat the coronavirus, “the minister said.

“However, I must continue to advise caution as we move towards the new normal: If we want to maintain this status quo with low transmission rates, we must continue to focus on the simple things that keep the coronavirus away – washing or cleaning hands. at every opportunity, maintaining a safe distance from each other, regular cleaning and cleaning of the surfaces we come in contact with, and wearing masks whenever we are in public spaces.

“The threat of a resurgence that can be more devastating than the first wave of infections remains very real. We must always remember this. Most importantly, we must encourage and remind each other that these simple interventions remain an important part of our new life, “Mkhize said.

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