LAGOS NIGERIA WEATHER | Covid-19: SA has reason to be hopeful, as recovery rate increases to 64%, Mkhize tells summit

  • Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize says, despite progress in recoveries, there are still challenges.
  • Innovative stock surveillance solutions are needed for PPEs.
  • Mkhize was presenting to the National Summit on Science and Innovation Response.

Despite being the country with the fifth-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world, South Africa has reason to be hopeful, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize told the National Summit on Science and Innovation Response on Friday.

He said another reason to be hopeful lies in the recovery rate, which has now increased to 64%, showing that more people were overcoming the virus, he said.

The virtual conference was also attended by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande, who delivered President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech, in his absence, as well as Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.

World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the African Union commissioner for human resources, science and technology, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, also formed part of the summit.

Mkhize said lessons on case management and discovery of effective medication, such as dexamethasone, and early use of oxygen and other regiments, had resulted in low mortality – consistently below 2%.

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He also highlighted that, while there was some progress in the fight against the virus, the department continued to manage several concerns and challenges, including the upscaling of bed capacity and contact tracing.

Mkhize said there was also a strain on personal protective equipment (PPE) availability because they were in high demand.

He added that innovative stock surveillance solutions were now required to monitor corruption, price gouging and maldistribution of the equipment.

“This requires immediate resolution to protect our health workers as they are the backbone of our health services and also to avert labour disputes. We still need to work on increasing human resources for health of all categories, expedite the filling of vacancies and recruit new staff. 

“Additional ventilators and oxygen supply are pivotal and the National Ventilator Programme is an important development in this regard,” the minister said.

He added that the participation in the Solidarity Trial for therapeutics and the ChAdOx-1 study for vaccine development were critical to favourably position the country for access to the tools when they became available on the market.

Mkhize also said the Western Cape had passed the peak and had maintained a plateau for the past two months, while early indications of promising decline were being observed in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

He added that it was for these reasons that there was a need to intensify the non-pharmaceutical interventions and to place emphasis on behavioural change to force the reduction of new infections in provinces.  

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“It is for this reason we are investing a huge amount of resources to safeguard our future.

“This conference is timeous as it allows us to open up a wide variety of disciplines of scientific research and harness expertise to advance solutions in Covid-19 combat and health systems strengthening.

“It will be key to take every opportunity to progress towards universal health coverage,” said Mkhize.

On Wednesday, News24 reported that South Africa’s recovery rate was well above the global average of 58.2%.

As of Thursday, a cumulative total of 482 169 confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded, with 7 812 deaths.

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