#StayHome and miss the XMas family dinner/party than risk infecting the elderly with COVID-19, urges KZN Health MEC

24 December 2020

Embracing the New Normal should mean people must minimise their movements - even canceling plans for special occasions such as family Christmas lunches - rather than risk infecting their elderly parents and other relatives with the deadly COVID-19.

It should also mean missing funerals where possible, while other potential super-spreader social gatherings such as traditional ceremonies, birthdays, and other events get postponed if adherence to social distancing, wearing of masks, and hand hygiene cannot be guaranteed.

"We are pleading with our fellow compatriots to adopt these norms until COVID-19 subsides," says KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu.

The MEC's impassioned pleas come as most people get into the spirit of Christmas amid an increased rate of COVID-19 infections and fatalities that has been recorded in the province, and in parts of the country, in recent weeks.

The MEC says only a cautionary approach will help ease the pressure on the public and private healthcare systems, both of which are taking strain from seeing a large number of patients with COVID-19.

Over the past 24 hour reporting period, the Province has registered 4 188 new infections, bringing the province's cumulative number of COVID cases to 166 877. Sadly, 81 people have succumbed to the disease, bringing the death toll to 3 873. At least 3 010 of those who have passed away had co-morbidities.

MEC Simelane-Zulu says: "Our message has been very clear from out onset, even before the second wave of COVID-19 came: congregating in large crowds contributes to the spread of the virus, and should be avoided. With Christmas and New Year's Day on the horizon, it's no different. We are saying it is much better and safer for people to stay where they are. The danger with traveling and interacting with people, particularly in large groups, is that it increases the risk of acquiring or passing on the virus to others.

"Remember, the virus does not move. It is us who give it mobility, by moving around. We need to realise that no person or environment can be considered safe or immune from COVID-19.

"We know that it's been a tough year, and that we all have familial ties that we need to maintain by being around our loved ones. But the New Normal that we find ourselves in should force us to pause and think twice about some of the things that we had become accustomed to in the past.

"Just because my friends are out partying, or just because it's Christmas or New Year's Eve, do I really need to leave my surroundings and potentially transport COVID-19, or expose myself to possible infection?

"Let's be socially responsible and postpone events if we must. If you attended a Christmas or birthday party, and then went home and infected your parents or grandparents, and they became critically ill or happened to pass away as a result… just because you couldn't stay home, would you be able to live with yourself afterwards? Is the risk worth taking? Those are some of the things we need to ponder, if we are to survive this, and also lessen the burden on the healthcare system."

The MEC also pleaded with the public to reduce or halt their intake of alcohol, saying it was not only a major contributor to incidents of injury and trauma, but also made it difficult for people to adhere to COVID-19 precautions when they're under the influence.

"Due to the increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections, our hospitals are already under a lot of pressure. The last thing we need now is for people to get injured and require hospital admission and care, due to alcohol-induced incidents that are completely avoidable. That is why we are calling on the public to act responsibly, and help ease the burden on the healthcare system. There really is a lot that you can help us achieve by staying at home."

The MEC has also acknowledged and thanked all healthcare, emergency medical services, and forensic pathology services personnel who are working throughout the holidays.

For assistance with quarantine, isolation and other COVID-19 related queries, the public may contact the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on 0800 029 999, which is accessible 24 hours a day. They may also send a "hi" WhatsApp text to 0600 123 456 to stay informed.

ENDS Issued by the KZN Department of Health

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This page last edited on 28 December, 2020

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