Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Saturday met with Western Cape government officials, clinicians and experts to discuss how the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the province can be curbed.

In a press briefing after their meeting, Mkhize, alongside Western Cape premier Alan Winde, said more than 50% of South Africa’s positive cases have come from the province – with Cape Town being a hotspot.

“We came here because of various concerns that we had, like the rapid increase of numbers of people who are positive in the province. We have seen that almost 50 percent of the positive cases are in the Western Cape. That is a matter of concern to all of us. It means you have a situation where the outbreak has moved faster than we might have anticipated,” Mkhize said.

“We also were concerned about the fact that we have lost a second health worker. We want to convey our condolences to the family, to the loved ones as well as to the hospital staff members who worked with her.”

Mkhize said healthcare workers are a priority.

“We discussed the need for us to prioritize our attention to the health workers; to make sure they are well trained, so they understand what it means to be fighting COVID-19. Secondly, the issue of ensuring they are well protected. The provision of PPEs we will make sure it is made available at the right levels. We have commitment to source as much of that PPE,” he said.

The Health Minister said he was satisfied with how the Western Cape is managing its cases, but more epidemiologists and experts will be brought in to reinforce the response to COVID-19.

“Our approach has been that the outbreak in the Western Cape is an outbreak in South Africa and therefore it requires us to work together as one government to solve this problem,” he said.

“I was absolutely satisfied with the approach in terms of case management from the admission of the patient to taking up to ventilators and ICU. The two areas that I want to highlight where we had a lot of discussion about is finding the cases. Clearly, we need to make sure that we are able to test our community and find those who are positive.

“There is a real shortage of test kits from all over the world and this is putting a constraint on our ability to test as much as we want to do so. This is an area we are discussing and trying to find solutions for.”