Zweli Mkhize borders NHI Bill Sibusisiwe Zulu Gauteng KZN

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Photo: File

Coronavirus SA: Mkhize says infection toll will reach 200 by Friday

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has told doctors that he expects the number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa to reach 200 by Friday.

Zweli Mkhize borders NHI Bill Sibusisiwe Zulu Gauteng KZN

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Photo: File

“Last night at 20:00, we had 150 cases and by tomorrow [Friday] we are expecting the figure to be 200,” Mkhize said as he met with doctors and nurses at the South African Medical Association (Sama) in Pretoria, exactly two weeks after South Africa recorded its first case of infection.

A jump of 50 cases or more would confirm that an exponential pattern of increase in the infection is now entrenched in South Africa.

‘Hard combat time’

“This is hard combat time … It’s up to each one of us to make sure we reduce the fatalities,” Mkhize said.

So far, South Africa has seen no deaths from the virus, but media reports on Thursday claimed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision on Sunday to declare a national state of disaster was based on projections that COVID-19 could claim more than 300 000 lives in the country.

“We are going to have to face up to a number of lessons from various countries…but we can behave in a away that can change the course of this infection,” the minister said.

“We are monitoring the behaviour of the virus. We need to face reality. We must learn from other countries but let’s make our own history.”

Growing number of local transmissions

He has expressed concern in recent days about the growing number of local transmissions. The first recorded cases all involved patients who had returned from high risk countries abroad.

Mkhize said the government was determined to trace the contacts of those who have tested positive to map and curb the spread of the disease.

“We have recruited close to 2 000 tracers who are coordinating the system so that we are ultimately able to do this quickly,” he said.

He also confirmed that the government had reached out to the private health sector, with a view to using private institutions as places of quarantine.

— By African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Naomi Mackay