Let us live like we're still at lockdown level 5 , so we can stop COVID-19 second wave, pleads KZN Health, Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu

27 September 2020

The feared, stronger and potentially deadlier second wave of COVID -19 infections could be prevented if citizens of KwaZulu-Natal conduct themselves as though they were still under the stricter Level 5 of the national lockdown.

This is according to KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, who has also expressed her concerns about the apparent reintroduction of various forms of risky public behaviour since the country was de-escalated to Level 1.

These include rampant partying and alcohol consumption, failure to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing, as well as the smoking of the “Hubbly-bubbly”, also known as the “hookah”, which is shared by groups of people and contains harmful substances, exposing users to potential COVID-19 infection through saliva.

The MEC is also worried about asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 interacting closely with the elderly, which could prove fatal.

Countries such as Spain, Italy, South Korea, China, United States, and the United Kingdom, which were hardest hit by the first wave of COVID – 19, - have begun seeing a resurgence of the virus in many communities.

For now, South Africa’s own rate of infections has been on a downward spiral, with a recovery rate of 89.9%.

Nevertheless, MEC Simelane-Zulu says this is no time to be complacent.

From the country's cumulative 669 498 COVID-19 infections and 16 376 deaths, KwaZulu-Natal has had a total of 118 350 cases, of which 6740 are still active, with 108 993 (or 92%) recoveries.

At least 175 new cases have been registered in the province in the past 24 hours. Sadly, the province has registered a total of 2617 deaths due to the virus.

Speaking during an interview on her Department's new innovative and interactive multimedia programme *LunchtimeChat.Gov, MEC Simelane-Zulu said: "We are pleading with citizens to co-operate with us, because if they don't, we will find ourselves being hit by this second wave. The biggest challenge is that no-one knows the extent to which that second wave could affect us, though what is clear is that it is definitely stronger than the first wave. We appeal to fellow compatriots to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, wear face masks, and practice social distancing."

"It is much better and safer to stay home as much as possible, and only visit elderly people when it's absolutely necessary. This is important because sometimes younger people may be infected but asymptomatic. This does not, however, stop them from passing the virus onto the elderly, who may become sick or even die.

What we are seeing at restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs is extremely concerning. You'd swear it was business as usual. There's also this trend of smoking something called 'hubbly-bubbly', which is one of the quickest ways to transmit COVID – 19. It may sound light-hearted, but the truth is that we all have a responsibility to take care of our own lives. Yes, Government is there, but in many respects, making a difference is in our own hands.

Government cannot take a mask and put it on a person. We cannot police people in everything that they do at all times. That is why as communities, we must take that responsibility… That is why we are pleased that the MEC for Transport, Mr Bheki Ntuli, is in talks with the taxi industry to find ways to ensure that the proper precautions, including the wearing of masks by commuters, are followed.

"The very same way that when we had the HIV/AIDS pandemic individuals had to ensure that they had condoms so that they could protect themselves. Government made condoms freely available, but using them is up to individuals. What we are saying with masks is the same. People need to wear their masks at all times in order to stay safe from COVID - 19. This is about our own safety.

We need to get into the habit of living as though we were still in level 5 of the lockdown, even though we are at Level 1. This way we’ll be able to prevent the threat of a second wave of infections.

Notably, the MEC also announced that the Department would be resuming a number of its highly effective community outreach programmes as the Province forges ahead to reduce the burden of disease. This will be done in keeping with the stipulated regulations on public gatherings.

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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