Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has urged the public to take precautions to avoid a possible resurgence of high COVID-19 infections in the country.

The Minister, who together with his wife recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is under quarantine at home, said his department has seen concerning trends in the country’s infection rates.

“This morning, after reading and analysing our country’s epidemiological reports, as the Minister of Health, I cannot help but be concerned. Fellow South Africans, when we emphasise that the risk of a resurgence remains high, we do not do so to instil fear in you.

“As government, we have a responsibility to alert you when we see concerning trends. It would be irresponsible of us to ignore ‘small flames’ that we see redeveloping in some parts of the country,” said the Minister on Wednesday, October 21.

According to the Minister, the country’s epidemiological reports over the last seven days show an increase of 9.1% in new cases. Similarly, over the last 14 days, there has been an increase of 10.7%.

“We are also seeing concerning increases in some of the provinces. To illustrate this, in the last seven days, there was a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western Cape.

“The province recorded a 42% increase in new infections. According to our resurgence plan, we define this significant spike in new cases in the Western Cape as a resurgence,” he said.

Super-spreader events grow infections

The Western Cape Provincial Health Department has identified specific clusters that are responsible for the increase in cases, and has advised that each of these clusters be investigated and a detailed outbreak response mounted.

The single biggest cluster outbreak was to be in the Southern Sub-district in the Cape Metro, and traced to a super-spreader event at a bar.

“We await further reports from the Western Cape Health response teams who are now required to target the sub-districts with a high increase of new cases over the last two weeks.

“We are now encouraging all provinces to pay attention to these increasing numbers and quickly mount a response, including contact tracing and quarantine,” said the Minister.

Mkhize said the rate of new infections and deaths will inform the recommendations that the Health Department makes to the National Coronavirus Council.

With the country still battling infections, the Minister urged citizens to continue to take precautions.

“As we continue to monitor the development of a vaccine, the only weapon we possess as a country is our social behaviour and constant adherence to health protocols. All of us must take this responsibility and always encourage those around us.

“We must also take heed of the major lessons from the COVID-19 that is despite the anxiety, the psychological trauma, the physical suffering and grief from lives we lost, COVID-19 has reawakened our deep values of Ubuntu in us all,” said the Minister.

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