Health Minister  Zweli Mkhize announced that the future handling of the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa will be done through a district-based approach.

In a statement, Mkhize said that while certain parts of the country will enter into different lockdown stages, this won’t be done only on a provincial level, but also a district level.

He explained that this is in line with recommendations and advice from the World Health Organisation.

“Districts have therefore been differentiated in accordance with the average active cases experienced over one week. Depending on the average active cases per 100 000 people, districts will be individually assigned levels of lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.

These districts will be monitored and the National Command Council will review the level of lockdown per district every two weeks.

“The case numbers will be monitored and the Inter-sectoral and inter-departmental oversight structures will be put in place with the guidance of national government, and corresponding regulations pertaining to each level of lockdown will be integrated into each district,” he said.

Community organisations such as local government, civil society, religious organisations and community policing forums will be tasked with monitoring compliance and enforcing these regulations.

“This should mobilise communities together, rather than create hostility against members of the police and the army,” said Mkhize.

“Each district should have a dedicated rapid response team to intervene should there be cluster outbreaks while screening, testing and case management is conducted.”

Mkhize impressed that without the lockdown measures that have been enacted so far, at least 80 000 South Africans could have been infected with COVID-19 by now and our death toll could have been eight times higher.

He implored citizens to remember the fundamentals of COVID-19 prevention:  social distancing, wearing cloth masks in public and regular hand hygiene.

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