‘Covid-19 preventative behavior needs to become part of our everyday lives,’ Mkhize says


Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned that COVID-19 preventative measures need to be incorporated into our daily behavior as the virus is expected to exist across the globe for another year or two – until a vaccine is found.

Mkhize, along with members of his Ministerial Advisory Committee and officials from the National Department of Health, on Friday addressed the public and members of the media over a digital briefing.

“South Africa is in a unique situation. Because our infection arose from imported cases, we needed to impose a lockdown immediately to reduce the spread of infection,” he said.

“The issue of hunger, social destress, income challenges…all of these issues are very serious and therefore it becomes important that whilst we want to make sure we focus on the infection, we don’t want people to be having a problem where they can’t survive.”

Mkhize said it is impossible to institute a hard lockdown for an extended period of time, and therefore, South Africans need to continue essential activities while taking extreme precaution.

“What we need to do is to accept the reality now. The COVID-19 disease It is going to be with us for a year or two or more. As you go about trying to make sure that we get our income, as we get our social life, together, there are things that are not going to be possible to do; but it is not possible to keep the lockdown forever,” he said.

The minister urged the public to continue handwashing and sanitizing, using cloth masks, and practicing social distancing as a new norm.

“We are going to take lessons from the public, we are going to take lessons from our own researchers and try to do the best for our country,” Mkhize said.

In his presentation, MAC chairman Professor Salim Abdool Karim addressed the rise of infections in the Western Cape.

“What occurred in the Western Cape was that in the latter part of the Level 5lockdown, we saw outbreaks occurring. Most of them occurred in grocery stores and supermarkets. They have been able to identify these hotspots and the sources of these transmissions,” he said.

“Our curve has been flattened. SA’s line is among those epidemics that are the least severe of all the epidemics. We are keeping company with South Korea and so on. However, if we do not ensure we use all the measures in our toolbox, that line could easily rise rapidly.”

Abdool Karim warned that the country’s efforts to contain the virus will have to continue “for months or years or until a vaccine is found”.