By Kaya 959 News
Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, has tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement, the department confirmed that the MEC is currently in self-isolation.
“MEC Mokgethi presented with mild symptoms before she went to test on Tuesday. All persons who were in contact with her have been advised to self-isolate and test if necessary,” the statement read.
Stricter regulations possible
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has hinted at a possible strengthening of lockdown regulations in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Ramaphosa, who is currently on a state visit to France, said the government was looking at ways to gear up measures in preparation for the third wave.
“We are watching it very closely and if it comes, we are ready. The issue of a lockdown is something that will only be looked at depending on the severity of the third COVID-19 wave.
“A lockdown would only be looked at depending on how badly the country is hit by an influx in new cases,” Ramaphosa said.
COVID-19 spike in Gauteng
Gauteng, the Free State and the Northern Cape have already entered their third wave owing to major spikes in new infections.
Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, warned that these provinces are currently experiencing their highest increases to date.
He said Gauteng is the most populous province and has some of the most densely populated areas, this means infection rates can spread quite rapidly.
“It is also the economic and transport hub which means there’s a lot of movement into and out of the province and this could easily spread to neighbouring provinces and across the rest of the country,” Suliman said.
He said new COVID-19 cases were doubling at least every 10 days in Gauteng.
“The Free State remains on a steady increase with cases up to 15% week-on-week,” he said.
Daily vaccine updates needed
He added that whether South Africa was in its third wave or not yet, the risk is increasing across all provinces. He noted an increase in cases, testing, positive cases, people needing to be hospitalised and deaths.
DA shadow minister on health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, called on the government to release detailed daily updates on the COVID-19 Phase Two vaccinations.
He said this would assist in assessing progress and identifying weak spots where more needs to be done to speed up the vaccinations.
According to the National Health Department, 39 371 vaccinations have been done countywide so far this week, but we do not know how many of these were in Gauteng and its various districts.
“I am concerned by reports that many elderly people have received short notice to travel long distances for their vaccinations,” he said.
While teething problems could be expected, Bloom said it is clear that vastly more vaccination sites need to be running that are closer to where people live.
“It is disappointing that the private sector sites in Gauteng will only be operational next week as they are vitally needed to boost the numbers of vaccinated people,” he said.
Bloom said a decentralised model of vaccine distribution will work best in Gauteng, with the private and public sectors working together to save lives as a third wave looms of Covid-19 infections.