Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has expressed optimism that with the behavioural change among the citizens, the Covid-19 curve will be flattened.
Mkhize together with his counterpart in higher education, science and technology Blade Nzimande were among speakers at a virtual National Covid-19 Conference on Friday aimed at harnessing science, technology and innovation in response to the pandemic.
Mkhize said the government had established a multi-sectoral Ministerial Advisory Committee which focuses on ground mobilisation for behavioural change.
“This seeks to forge collaboration with behavioural scientists, civil society, communities, traditional leaders, traditional healers, religious organisations, labour and all stakeholders who are able to effect change at grassroots level,” said Mkhize.
Other participants were trade, industry and competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, African Union Commissioner for human resources, science and technology Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor.
Mkhize said the country was continuing to experience challenges when it comes to the number of beds required for virus patients, but said the department was determined to overcome this challenge.
He said contact tracing for quarantine and isolation purposes remains key to breaking the cycle of community transmission.
“We have now augmented our track and tracing functions to be supported by a digital system called COVIDConnect where users can interact with the healthcare system on a digital platform for case identification, tracking and tracing and referral to quarantine, isolation or hospitalisation,” he said.
He said there was still a strain on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability due to high demand.
“Sometimes poor quality, corruption, price gouging and maldistribution now requires our urgent attention and innovative stock surveillance solutions. This requires immediate resolution to protect our health workers as they are the backbone of our health services and also to avert labour disputes,” Mkhize said.
He said the government still had to move faster in employing more healthcare workers.
“Additional ventilators and oxygen supply is pivotal and the National Ventilator Programme is an important development in this regard,” he said.
He said although a total of 2 918 049 tests have been conducted, there was still more to be done to increase testing capability in order to identify low and high transmission areas.
“Our shift to a targeted testing strategy was necessary to optimize the use of available resources in the midst of a surge. Antibody testing can still play a role in assessing community impact,” he said.
In other news – I am officially retired from SA hip hop – AKA