The South African government is prepared to spend any amount of money it takes to save lives.
This was the battle cry from Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday afternoon.
“It does not matter how much money we spend. It will be worth it … We have seen the devastation in other parts of the world.”
The minister is determined South Africa will do everything in its power to prevent similar carnage.
Mkhize was speaking at a media briefing at Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town.
He announced there had been two further deaths to add to the current figure of seven – those of an 80-year-old man, on 1 April, and an 81-year-old woman, on 2 April, both in KwaZulu-Natal.
But Mkhize later cautioned there was not yet conclusive proof these two deaths had definitely been Covid-19-related. This caused some confusion among media present.
Other figures were clearer:
- A total of 1 505 positive cases in South Africa, up by 43
- Of whom 10 were currently in intensive care units (ICUs)
But the minister warned the total figures could not yet be regarded as a comprehensive reflection, until significantly more testing had been conducted.
To address this, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Nomafrench Mbombo, announced urgent testing would begin on Monday at priority hot spots.
These included: *
- Khayelitsha area: Town 2 and Ilitha Park
- Eastern area: Happy Valley in Blackheath
- Western area: the Bokaap – where two positive cases had already been detected
- Tygerberg: Bishop Lavis
- On the Cape Flats: Philippi
- And several areas more – including outside of the Cape Metro, such as parts of the Cape Winelands
Mkhize said he had been briefed in full by Western Cape premier, Alan Winde, and his full Cabinet, and he was satisfied the provincial leadership on the pandemic were taking the right approach.
He was deeply appreciative of the impact of the 21-day lockdown on the economy in general, and on poverty in particular.
Mkhize pointed out that no country in the world had yet got this completely right. He stressed, however, that while numbers remained relatively low, it was crucial to continue stopping the spread through the range of prohibitions under the lockdown.
Asked for his projections on either a “surge” or “peak”, Mkhize said a range of scenarios were possible – all based on different statistical modelling and data sets.
He said this meant precise singular predictions were not appropriate. Instead, he urged South Africans to simply do their utmost – regardless.