Health minister Zweli Mkhize warned that the country was “entering the storm” and that the number of Covid-19 infections will continue to rise.
“The numbers are expected to continue to grow and certainly we are not going to be over that until the month of July and end of August.
“We will have to see how our projections go beyond that time, but we certainly believe that the difficult time is July and August,” Mkhize said on Tuesday morning.
Mkhize was speaking on the SAfm Sunrise show with Stephen Grootes.
He said that the onus was on society to help curb the spread of the virus, adding that it might be with us for the rest of the year and into 2021.
“We think we might be with the virus for the whole of the year and next year, so we need to find a way of adjusting to living in the situation where the virus is amongst us.
“It is no longer in the hands of nurses and doctors but in the hands of South Africans,” he said.
He said that he had seen many South Africans not complying with the basic hygiene protocols in place.
“I walk around and see a lot of people not wearing masks. Others wear masks and put it on their chin and others when they see police they take it from their pockets and put it on.”
In recent weeks Gauteng has been hit hard with a rise in infections, but Mkhize said he was also concerned about the spread of the virus in the Eastern Cape.
“I’m concerned about the Eastern Cape, largely because it’s a health system that always had challenges and the management needs strengthening.
“It is a very challenging province and therefore we always have to keep our eye on it,” he said.
However, Mkhize said the department had provided the province with support over the past few months and there had been some improvements. He said officials had also been sent to the province to help on the ground.
The government’s national Covid-19 command centre had not made any decisions on whether it was necessary to place various areas under different levels of restrictions during the lockdown, said Mkhize.
He said should the need arise, it would be implemented.
“We can’t rule out anything yet. The key is how to prevent the infections from spreading but when the numbers become too high, we will need to find other ways to intervene.
“All of those issues have to be taken into account. As we move into the future we can’t say that won’t happen, we need to be open-minded what the needs are.”
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