With the coronavirus (COVID-19) officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is now preparing to meet with health MECs from all provinces to discuss government’s strategy to curb the spread of the disease at home.
A pandemic is described as an epidemic of disease that has spread to multiple continents or even worldwide.
The meeting is expected to take place at 6 pm on Thursday where several options will be discussed, including travel restrictions and self-isolation.
The decisions made are expected to be made public to guide South Africans on how best to respond to COVID-19.
“We are taking guidance from our national inter-ministerial task team, but as the national Department of Health, we are going to have a meeting with all the MECs and the minister to discuss what becomes our next step. There are a few things that we are considering in terms of restrictions and self-isolation,” said Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku.
Meanwhile, the WHO said countries now needed to review their strategies to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Globally more than 4,370 people have died and over 121,000 are infected with COVID-19.
Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Michael Ryan, said all countries needed to review their objectives in responding to the pandemic within their borders.
“Are they accepting that the disease can now spread completely in an uncontrolled fashion to all the corners of the country, and they are going to focus on just trying to keep the health system moving forward or from collapsing – that’s known as mitigation and focuses on effectively supporting the health system including reducing fatalities,” Ryan said.
Ryan stressed that the announcement made by the global public health body is by no means an indication for countries to move over to mitigation-mode.
At the same time, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Wednesday said despite an increasing number of COVID-19 patients in South Africa, a moratorium in international travel by government officials and civilians was not yet necessary.
The Department of Health confirmed there were 13 confirmed cases in South Africa. Seven of them are from KZN.
Zikalala said government efforts to prevent the spread so far were adequate.
“We treat all issues on a case-by-case basis and depending on the nature of the event, the location of the event, the interaction with national government and their advice on issues,” Zikalala said.
He said the surveillance measures at the province’s ports of entry had been heightened.