Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: SUPPLIED/GCIS
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: SUPPLIED/GCIS

As SA’s tally of Covid-19 cases rose to 554, health minister Zweli Mkhize warned that the number of cases is expected to continue to rise for at least another fortnight.

It will take time for the 21-day national lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night to have an effect and reduce the spread of the disease, he said.

The lockdown will take effect from midnight on Thursday, and will impose stringent restrictions on the movement of people. People will be confined to their homes and will only be allowed to leave to shop for essentials such as food and medicines, to seek healthcare, or collect social grants.

Essential workers, including people who work in healthcare, emergency services, the police, army and in the production and distribution of vital supplies such as food and pharmaceuticals are exempted from these rules.

Mkhize said the effect of the lockdown on the transmission of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, would hopefully be seen towards the end of the second or third week of the lockdown. It had taken four weeks in South Korea, he said.

Gauteng remains the province hardest hit by Covid-19, with 302 cases, followed by the Western Cape (130) and KwaZulu-Natal (80)

Mkhize issued a stern warning to healthcare workers about their legal obligations to record all the details of patients who get tested for Covid-19, saying that information was vital for tracing contacts and managing the outbreak.

Covid-19 is a notifiable disease, which means it is a legal offence not to complete the requisite paperwork for patients, he said.

“It is not a nicety, but an obligation,” he said.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za