Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE.
Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE.

The declining number of Covid-19 infections in SA may see the country move to level 1 of lockdown in a few days’ time‚ health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday.

The news comes as the country sits with a cumulative total of 640‚441 infections and 15‚086 deaths related to Covid-19.

Speaking to Radio Islam‚ Mkhize said the worst was over.

“We can safely say we are over the surge. June‚ July and August were the worst months‚ as predicted by our models. However‚ we found that not as many people [were affected] as the model suggested‚” he said.

Mkhize said a number of factors could be attributed to the declining number of infections. “A major factor is that we embarked on containment measures‚ and there may well be other factors in the environment here. We are very grateful for the support we got from South Africans to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

Asked when the county could move to level 1 and what measures would be put in place‚ Mkhize said President Cyril Ramaphosa would give an indication in a few days.

“It’s too early to say. We are still discussing all the issues. The president will give us a sense of direction‚ but we will be preparing to start easing to the next level‚” he said.

While some have expressed concern about further reopening the economy‚ Mkhize said the country had done well so far and normalcy needed to return.

“We were quite worried but didn’t have an increase in the number of cases when we moved from level 3 to level 2‚ which has really been good news because we do want to get back to normal activities, so we will have to move to level 1. We hope we can still contain the numbers. The past weeks have been very encouraging with no upsurge.

“We need to still keep some measures around mixing‚ gatherings and so on‚ but we need to start opening up more economic activities as we move on. We need to get our economy back to its normal footing‚ we need to get people jobs‚ we need to get people to earn incomes. Everyone must be able to survive on their own without needing further assistance from government‚” he said.

Mkhize warned that caution must be exercised to avoid another surge in infections.

“We are not out of the woods. We must always be careful because infections may rise again in the same way this is happening in Spain‚ the US‚ Iran and Korea,” Mkhize said.

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