Concern raised as Covid-19 cases jump 6% in Gauteng under lockdown level 1

Covid-19 infections have shot up in Gauteng since the country moved to alert level 1.
Covid-19 infections have shot up in Gauteng since the country moved to alert level 1.
Image: MICHELE SPATARI/AFP

Active Covid-19 cases have shot up by 6% in Gauteng since the lockdown regulations were dropped to level 1, an increase “noted with concern” by the provincial health department.

“There is still no vaccine, the only way we can contain the spread of Covid-19 is through wearing of masks, keeping social distance and hand sanitisation, including adhering to the alert level 1 guidelines as provided by government,” said acting health MEC Jacob Mamabolo.

“The rise in infections has been attributed to, among other factors, non-adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions by some members of the public,” read a statement from his office.

A rise in active cases was recorded in parts of Johannesburg, Tshwane and the north of Ekurhuleni.

The health department reminded the public that despite the country being on a lower alert level, Covid-19 remained a threat.

“It is important that we emphasise to the public that the fight against Covid-19 is far from over. We want to caution communities that we need to continue adhering to non-pharmaceutical interventions,” the department said.

Mamabolo said: "'We all have to play our part to protect ourselves and those around us.”

Meanwhile, with the country moving past the coronavirus infection peak, health minister Zweli Mkhize said a new approach was needed to avoid a resurgence.

“Based on the conduct of the SA pandemic, we have re-evaluated our national response and identified new challenges that require new approaches,” read a statement from Mkhize’s office.  

“We have now re-evaluated the progress of the pandemic and the work of the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on Covid-19 and resolved that this MAC requires strengthening to ensure that it is able to address gaps and target new challenges.” 

Mkhize said the existing MAC had not been disbanded but had over the course of the country's battle with the virus been altered with more members being added or dropped according to what was needed at the time.

The strengthened committee would focus more on case management, preventive measures and public policy and advise on how to prevent further transmission of the virus.

Bio-medical practitioners, clinical experts, specialists in ethics, nurses, social scientists, researchers and community leaders are among those to be added on the committee.

“The strengthened MAC will still maintain a degree of continuity, retaining many of the experts from the original clinical-biomedical MAC, including the incumbent chair Prof Abdool-Karim, Prof Marc Mendelson, Prof Sthembiso Mkhize, Prof Rudo Mathivha and Prof Nombulelo Magula, amongst others,” said the health ministry.

“[Mkhize]  has seen this as an opportunity to diversify the skills set to ensure that government is now advised on issues that not only relate to medical science but also social sciences, behaviour and psyche of the population.”

The ministry extended its gratitude to all those who had served on the MACs.

“We believe that the MACs as they stand now more accurately reflect the needs of this country’s health and economic response as we look to rebuild our lives after the wreckage of the storm.

“These experts are fellow South Africans who stand ready to give of their expertise, commitment, and passion; turning ideas into action and innovation. For this we are truly grateful and also wish to reassure the members of our support as ministers and as government,” Mkhize said.

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