Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has asked KwaZulu-Natal traditional leaders to encourage their communities to quickly approach healthcare centres for minor symptoms of flu as this might be related to the Covid-19 virus, which is expected to soon peak in the province.
Mkhize was in the province in the last two days to inspect the readiness of the health facilities for the peak, which is estimated to take place by the middle of next week.
Addressing the media in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mkhize said he would meet the provincial House of Traditional Leaders.
“It is important to send a message to all traditional leaders that communities must not undermine a simple flu and say it is just a simple influenza because this time around we have got a problematic Covid-19 condition,” he said.
He said his turning to traditional leaders for assistance was out of concern about the reports of excess deaths.
“We are concerned that the further away people are from the large health centres and large hospitals, they would be reluctant to move quickly if they feel mild flu symptoms, and yet these can be devastating to those who are senior citizens and those who have comorbidities,” he said.
He commended traditional leaders for supporting the department in the fight against the virus.
“In rural areas people turn to use meetings to discuss local issues, we have actually asked them (traditional leaders) to reduce those meetings, and they have actually complied.
“We have also said they need to monitor the funerals, and they have also complied, we have also asked the traditional leaders to reduce some of the ceremonies, which bring people together, they also complied,” he said.
He said traditional leaders had also encouraged people to wear face masks and practise social distancing.
“The message is the same, whether you are in a rural area or an urban area, as the conditions under which you contract Covid-19 are the same.
“All we need is to ensure that they must not be a sector of our society that is neglected simply because we are moving around only in urban areas, therefore we have decided to have this meeting (with traditional leaders) mainly to strengthen our support so that we can solve the issues the same way,” said Mkhize.
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