28 March 2020
Fellow South Africans, as at today, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 1187. We must outrightly state that these numbers do not indicate a reduction in the number of infections. It is merely a reflection of positive results that were received, verified and ready for today’s reporting.
The provincial breakdown is as follows:
KWAZULU – NATAL
We have noted with concern a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases of health workers who work both in the private and public hospitals. This includes doctor and nurses. We mention this because health workers are in the frontline of this battle. They are exposed not only to their families but to the patients who they are meant to treat.
Some of the confirmed COVID-19 cases that involve health workers are as follows:
- In Limpopo, 1 medical doctor tested positive after he had travelled abroad for holiday started experiencing symptoms on his return. He immediately decided to quarantine himself. This young doctor remained in quarantine to ensure that he does not transmit the virus to other people. His 14 day quarantine period has ended and we are pleased to report that his results have now been confirmed negative.
- In Mpumalanga, 1 medical doctor who had also travelled for a holiday abroad returned to the Province with symptoms which emerged a few days after he returned. Before then, he had been having interactions with staff and patients. He then tested positive and was quarantined. This led to other health workers who had come into contact with him to be screened, quarantined and tested. A decision was also made for that section of the hospital to be closed in order to disinfect it. This has been completed and it will be reopening during the course of next week.
- In Free State, we have received a report that 3 doctors, 1 nurse and 1 neurophysicist have tested positive for COVID-19.
- In Gauteng, 6 medical doctors have been infected in Gauteng.
All these health workers are in a good medical condition with most of them having mild or no symptoms. It is only one doctor in the Free State aged 70, who is in ICU. It must be emphasised that none of these health workers were infected by patients that they were treating. They came into contact with their family members, friends and other colleagues who had tested positive for COVID-19. All individuals who were identified as contacts of these health workers have been put in quarantine and are being monitored.
We must inform our people that South Africa received a very limited stock of flu vaccines. These are pre ordered a year in advance. At the time the country (both public and private) placed its orders, we had not anticipated this COVID-19 pandemic. This means that as it stands, our flu vaccines are understocked.
As government we have engaged with the pharmaceutical industry and it became clear that the distribution of this vaccine has to be rationalised and prioritised. We have therefore taken
a decision that health workers in the country will be given priority in receiving the flu vaccine. This is precipitated by the fact that the country cannot afford to have them sick especially as the flu season approaches. This is one of the major lessons that we have learnt from countries that have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.
We therefore plead for the understanding of all South Africans who may unfortunately not have access to the flu vaccine this year.
We are pleased that South Africa is participating in the Public Health E