No decision on any new lockdowns, but possible local restrictions, says Mhkize

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize Picture: Jacques Nelles

The minister’s comments come after Gauteng’s Health MEC Bandile Masuku on Monday said it may possibly look at “intermittent lockdowns” as the province prepares for a peak in Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Zweli Mhkize has said government and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) have no plans for any lockdowns, but added there “may be a need in some areas for restrictions”.

The comments on Twitter come after Gauteng’s Health MEC Bandile Masuku on Monday said it may possibly look at “intermittent lockdowns” as the province prepares for a peak in Covid-19 cases.

These intermittent lockdowns could see the province opening up and then closing the economy for a particular period of time, said health MEC Bandile Masuku.

According to the Mhkize: “One of the challenges with Gauteng is the fact that you have different metropolitan areas, which is one ecosystem. As we move into the future, we need to be open minded as to what our needs are.”

But he added that “we could not sustain the lockdown the way it was.”

“We needed people to get back to their jobs and for the economy to be revived. We needed to do that under new circumstances where we use masks, social distance and sanitise our hands.”

A lot of prevention is now in the hands of society, the minister said.

Mkhize announced on Sunday that Gauteng would emerge with the highest number of cases in the coming days, overtaking the Western Cape, which currently has over 60 000 cases.

On Sunday, Gauteng had a total of 36 895 cases, according to Mkhize.

The minister said factors contributing to the rise in cases were due to the move from Level 4 to 3; inward migration; the large population, especially in metros like Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane; as well as increased congregating, which had led to cluster outbreaks.

MEC Masuku said the expected rise in infections meant that regulations should be re-enforced, particularly on physical distancing and hygiene in communities, which is something the provincial government was already doing.

He said that as the pandemic evolved, the department would continue adapting its response. He said it was important that efforts be made to prepare for the surge – and, once the wave passes, everyone may look back and say the government was ready.

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