Zweli Mkhize has pulled no punches with his honest review of the COVID-19 resurgence in the Eastern Cape. The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in particular is suffering from a huge spike in cases, and the health minister has suggested that tougher lockdown restrictions – plus possible changes to alcohol sales – could be reintroduced to the region.
Nelson Mandela Bay’s COVID-19 surge
Speaking during a visit to the virus-hit province on Thursday, Mkhize reasoned that the numbers are forcing the Municipality in Port Elizabeth consider taking a step backwards. Cases here – and in certain hot-spots of the Western Cape – have been blamed for causing an increase in the overall national numbers.
“We have seen the number of people admitted to hospital has increased, the numbers of people recorded to have lost their lives have also increased and the percentage of people positive has also increased.”
“A few days ago, I did indicate that we are seeing the numbers beginning to breach the 3 000 positive cases per day and we were concerned about that…It is an indication that we are moving far from where we were.”
“The numbers are now driven by new cases, mainly in two provinces, Eastern Cape, which on daily numbers reflect about 50% to 55% of daily positive cases, followed by Western Cape which on a daily report seems to increase by 25%.”
What lockdown restrictions could come back to Nelson Mandela Bay
Mkhize also told the media that ‘additional restrictions’ will soon be discussed by the Cabinet, which will be specifically implemented in Nelson Mandela Bay if approved. Progress on this front may not be instant, but if the government are serious about preventing this regional cluster from becoming a national second wave, they’ll have to act fast.
According to the minister, several factors must considered before any announcements are made:
- The hours of movement: When people are allowed to socialise, work, and leave their homes is all up for review
- Late hours of movement: Curfew restrictions could possibly be altered.
- Alcohol-induced pressure on hospitals: Based on booze-related trauma cases, liquor products could be pulled from shelves.
Zweli Mkhize suggests ‘alcohol sales could be reviewed’ in NMB
“In this case, the whole of Nelson Mandela Bay would probably now deserve additional restrictions. We’ll have to look at what restrictions are needed. I think that when you have got the numbers as they are now, we need to start restricting the hours of movement, particularly late hours of movement, and hours of activities. So we need to discuss those issues.”
“We also have to look at the numbers in the hospitals to be able to look at the impact of the alcohol-induced pressure and therefore start discussing issues in that regard. Everything is going to be based on evidence that we get.”
Nelson Mandela Bay has continued to fester and in effect our concern is that something has to be done. We have seen the numbers of positive cases increasing in Nelson Mandela Bay and Eastern Cape. #ECVisit26November
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) November 26, 2020