'We'll watch Covid-19 hotspots closely'

Minister of health Zweli Mkhize is concerned about areas identified as Covid-19 hotspots. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Minister of health Zweli Mkhize is concerned about areas identified as Covid-19 hotspots. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has detailed measures on how the government will identify Covid-19 hotspots in the country.

This will be part of the country's district-level lockdown as it moves to level 3.

The hotspots include Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City, Cape Town, West Coast, Overberg, Cape Winelands, Chris Hani and iLembe in KZN.

Here is what you need to know about how hotspots are identified, according to Mkhize. Hotspots are areas that have more than five infected people per 100,000, or where the number of infections are increasing at a fast pace.

Presenting to the National Council of Provinces yesterday, Mkhize said districts would be identified in one of the following three ways:

-Areas of vigilance - fewer than five cases per 100,000 people.

-Emerging hotspots - fewer than five cases per 100,000 people, but increasing cases.

-Hotspots - more than five cases per 100,000 people.

Mkhize said the purpose of identifying hotspots was to be able to take all the measures necessary to control the rise of infections. He added that districts classified as hotspots could remain at level 4 with the intensive implementation of testing and restrictions.

He said if combined actions in hotspots did not contain the spread of infection, the area could return to a hard lockdown. Mkhize said hotspots would be under vigilance and close monitoring, adding that there will be containment measures for people with comorbidities.

"We need to make sure there are stringent measures according to each district. We are asking for vigilance and close monitoring in areas identified as hotspots.

"A district-level alert system will help to monitor those who need to take extra caution. Emerging hotspots must be watched vigilantly. We must focus on the emergence of new infections," he said.

Mkhize said teams of experts were in place and they would concentrate on a very small catchment area.

He added that field hospitals would ensure that people with mild symptoms were in quarantine to prevent the spread of the infection.

"Teams of experts will work in hotspots to make sure they look after the health of individuals in those areas.

"Experts will concentrate on a very small catchment area. They will try to keep as many people away from hospitals by getting them treated by teams of general practitioners and nurses." Additional measures in hotspots to contain the spread of the virus, according to Mkhize, would include the opening of routine health services.

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