“SA to face renewed and aggressive onslaught from COVID-19 after lockdown”

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Infectious disease epidemiologist and chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says despite the country’s gains from an early lockdown, it is likely to face a renewed and aggressive onslaught from the virus, once the lockdown is lifted.


Abdool Karim and Health Minister – Dr Zweli Mkhize  – last night shared some of the science behind government’s response to the pandemic at a virtual briefing from Durban.

Dr Zweli Mkhize holds online public engagement on efforts to fight COVID-19 in South Africa: 

The country’s death toll now stands at 27.

Abdool Karim says the early lockdown has bought the country time to prepare itself to put systems in place to deal with the onslaught.

“If we allow it to grow unchecked we will see what you see in New York with thousands of people trying to get into a hospital for care and we simply do not have enough ICU beds, or ventilators or medical staff or any of that.

The graph below offers data reflecting South Africa’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and projections for the future:

”I have to tell you a difficult truth, can South Africa escape the worst of this epidemic? Is the exponential spread avoidable? The answer sadly is that that’s very unlikely, we cannot escape this epidemic,” he says.

With three weeks left of the lockdown, Abdool Karim explains what is needed next.

“We need to find out where the cluster of cases are occurring. We need to go in there and slow it down. So stage 6 is what we anticipate … we need to be ready for when those patients come.”

”We need to ensure we have the capacity, the field hospitals for the triage. Stage 7 is we have to deal with the challenges of bereavement, it’s hard to say this, I know you don’t want to hear this. Then stage 8 which is the ongoing vigilance,” explains Abdool Karim.

The graph offers data reflecting South Africa’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and projections for the future:

Karim has also reiterated the call for non-healthcare workers to desist from using surgical and N95 masks that are globally in critical supply.


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