KZN a key driver in rise of second COVID-19 wave: Zweli Mkhize

KZN a key driver in rise of second COVID-19 wave: Zweli Mkhize

South Africa is in the grip of a second coronavirus wave. Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize says KwaZulu Natal's been identified as one of its key drivers. 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize - AFP

Briefing the media on the state of COVID-19 in SA last night, the Minister said the number of cases has increased across all provinces. 

He says a fresh spike in infections has led to a new wave of the outbreak. " The majority of new cases today are from WC (30%) followed by EC (24%) then KZN which accounted for 23%; and Gauteng province which is 17%. 

More than 6 700 people were diagnosed with Covid-19, in the last 24-hours. 

135 more people have lost their lives bringing the death toll to 22 574. 

"We have actually seen most of the numbers coming down to as low as around 1000. Now the numbers are starting to increase, it first moved to about 2,000 but now it has moved much higher than that.  

Mkhize says it is important as well to highlight that today SA has breached 6000 in terms of new cases and the total new cases today identified is 6 709 thus giving us a total of  828 598  cumulative cases today.

Covid-19 infections in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are rising again, and rapidly. "This rise is showing that there is going to be an exponential growth. That means we must expect faster-rising numbers with higher peak possibly in the first week. 

Mkhize says those in the 15 to 19 age bracket account for the highest number of cases at the moment. "This is a new issue and this is what is most worrying." 

"It's believed to be due to a large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, wearing no masks and social distancing and hand sanitizing also not taking place," he said. 

"We actually had a report from KZN from last week, where you could see this pattern which much more widespread than we thought." 

The Minister said this inevitably leads to super-spreader events, "It will spill over to the rest of the country as the age group is highly mobile and the majority of the carriers are largely asymptomatic."   

"If this trajectory continues our health care system will be overwhelmed by the numbers. Hence part of the recommendations that are being tabled by provinces themselves is that large gatherings and parties must be urgently curtailed." 

Mkhize says they've sent letters to the MECs of all provinces asking them to prepare for a second wave.  

"They need to ensure that testing turnaround times are as quick as possible to facilitate patient flow, assess bed capacity including recalling field hospital beds, attend to staffing and equipment needs urgently and to tighten up monitoring and evaluation and reporting to national department." 

Education officials in KZN are asking matrics to keep celebrations low-key. "At a time like this, it's not advisable for them to do so, because any event or gatherings, become a great spreader of the virus. 

The department's Muzi Mahlambi's been speaking after the majority of matrics wrote their final paper yesterday,  there are two exam rewrites next week. 


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