Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize today [Wednesday, April 1] launched the mobile units in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, there are seven mobile units available for door-to-door screening. This process is being dry-run in some parts of the Gauteng province.
“Our current testing capacity is a turnover of 5 000 tests per 24 hours,” the Minister said. “We are working to make sure that we will soon be able to turn over 30 000 tests in the same period. When all plans are fully implemented, we will have 118 testing centres, and approximately 320 testing units.”
He also informed South Africans that the MECs from the various provinces will be meeting at 9.30pm this evening to discuss the ways in which each part of the country can improve on their progress in the battle against the virus.
“Lockdown may not be enough,” Mkhize said. “Each MEC will have to identify the hotspot districts, and a partnership with CSRI an Right 2 Care has offered a lot of assistance to the provinces. They are doing all they can to provide care to those who most need it.”
“We must be strong in the face of an adversity that may affect generations to come,” he added.
Mkhize mentioned the various ways in which government has acted to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. These include closing borders, enforcing the national lockdown, and enforcing quarantine for those who have entered and left the country.
“We have managed to begin slowing down the rate of transmission, and reducing movement has helped,” the Minister said. “However, we are sure that there are many more cases. If those who live in remote areas take longer to report when they suspect they have been infected by the virus, our numbers are not yet accurate.”
Mkhize also expressed concerns surrounding the upcoming flu season, which begins in May. “During that time, there will be more cases where people have symptoms very similar to that of the coronavirus. People will move around, as they seek help, and this means that we will probably see an increase in the positive cases of the virus. We are currently in the calm before the storm, and the coming period will be difficult. This is why we need to make sure we have plans in place to deal with the coronavirus’ effects.”
South Africa is approaching China and Cuba to ask for assistance in dealing with the pandemic. According to Mkhize, China has valuable knowledge on how to effectively stop the spread of the virus, while Cuba is known for its policies that are able to reach even the most remote citizens successfully.
While South Africa does not yet have access to rapid-testing kits, the Minister has assured citizens that they are on their way. “The tests will have a turnaround time of 45 minutes,” Mkhize said. “In the meantime, each province will have to ensure they have their own and enough personal protective equipment (PPEs).”