Dr Zweli Mkhize says more coronavirus test kits are needed in the country as the department aims to conduct thousands of tests daily.
The comment comes as the number of cases continue to rise in South Africa, with the number of infections currently sitting at 150.
They are expected to reach the 200 mark on Friday. No deaths have been reported.
“We looking at how to increase the testing capabilities so that we can test as many people as possible. We have been talking about it that at this point we’ve just probably got about 1 200 tests and this 150 comes from that number, but we now need to start being ready to test a couple of thousands per day and secondly we need to also be able to increase capability to have what we call drive-by testing and mobile testing capacity as it were,” The Minister told a joint media briefing with the South African Medical Association (SAMA) in Pretoria on Thursday.
In the video below, Minister Mkhize briefs media after meeting SAMA:
No vaccine yet
Mkhize has reiterated that there is currently no vaccine for the COVID-19 that has the world on tenterhooks.
The remark comes as the United States gives the go-ahead to test a malaria drug called Chloroquine as a treatment for the virus.
Mkhize says some local medical professionals are part of the team that is working on developing the vaccine.
“People have spoken about anti-viral treatment and Chlor0quine etc. We are aware that there’s a whole lot of trials that are going on at the same time including issues of vaccine which we need to upfront say at the moment there is no vaccine available. Professor Helen Rees is part of the WHO (World Health Organisation) team that is actually leading South African effort in the creation of the vaccine. So, in the next 18 months we expect something should come through by way of the vaccine.”
Everybody is at risk
Mkhize says everybody is at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“In any community 60 t0 70% of the community will be affected by the virus. We can’t hide that. So I say to the religious leaders most of us we are going to have this virus. South Africa most of us will have this virus. It doesn’t mean that then it’s going to be a sever disease to all of us. It will be severe to the 20%. Let’s make sure that at each and every time the 20% is small so that we don’t have the strain of having to worry about opening new ventilators and all of those things. ”
He says during such times it is important to work together. “The reality for us is that we need to be working together to deal with this issue and as you will be aware as well the president has gone all out to call for a lot of stringent measures declaring a state of national disaster and also got a lot of stakeholders, leaders to come together and unite in an effort to fight this virus.”
In the video below, SABC’s Vuyani Green reports on sites identified to quarantine COVID-19 patients:
Sama commits to fighting COVID-19
The South African Medical Association (Sama) has committed to working together with government and other stakeholders in the fight against the coronavirus.
“We need to support the minister and his team, the presidency, Dr (Joe) Phaahla (Deputy Minister of Health) and NICD. We need to strengthen their hands and also coming up with solutions. Not only questions and we should not only sit here vent tonight (Thursday). We must try come up with workable ideas as to make this country see the light,” says Sama Chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.
Below is an infographic of regulations set out to stop spread of COVID-19:
Additional reporting Maluti Obuseng