Health department seeks ‘intermittent’ lockdown

Johannesburg – As Gauteng prepares for the worst in terms of Covid-19 infection, the province is looking at an ‘intermittent’ lockdown according to Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

  Masuku said the health department hoped to be ready for a peak in corona virus cases in the coming weeks.

  “We are looking at what is called an intermittent lockdown, which we have seen in other countries working quite well, where there will be a period where there will be opening, and a period where there is a lockdown to contain infections,” he said.

  Masuku added that government is more concerned with the deliberate breach of lockdown regulations by citizens.

  “People are even starting to deliberately organise parties and weddings; something we are trying to discourage,” he said.

  Masuku said under the intermittent lockdown, there would be a period where society will be open; and another where there will be a lockdown to contain the infection.

  “This has helped in other countries, and the literature has shown that it could be one of the options. It is a matter that is under discussion, and we are considering it going forward. If we have the health-care sector collapse in Gauteng, it generally means that the whole care system in the country has collapsed. So we have to do almost everything to protect and save lives,” Masuku said.

  On Sunday Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said more people seem to be letting their guard down, and not adhering to regulations at a time when Covid-19 infections are expected to surge. 

  “We are extremely concerned that fatigue seems to have set in and South Africans are letting down their guard. We see poor or no social distancing in communities. Masks are being abandoned or not worn properly, and there is laxity setting in around frequent hand-washing,” Mkhize said. 

 Mkhize urged people to continue adhering to the set Covid-19 regulations to prevent the spread, adding it was possible to beat the pandemic if the government and the public worked together.

He said it was up to citizens to call out their family members, colleagues and friends who were not adhering to measures put in place to reduce the spread. 

  “We do not have a vaccine; we do not have a cure. Our ability to break the cycle of infection depends on our willingness to remain focused and disciplined and take non-pharmaceutical interventions seriously,” Mkhize urged. 

  He said such attitudes from the public posed a risk to the fight to stop the virus spreading. “The department remains committed to working with communities, and is working on a programme with social scientists and the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Social Behavioural Change to get fundamental reform at grassroots levels in order to save lives. It will be important to engage community, religious and traditional leaders who can motivate individuals to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said Mkhize.

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