REMARKS BY KZN PREMIER HON. MR SIHLE ZIKALALA ON THE OCCASION OF A MEDIA BRIEFING FOLLOWING ANNOUNCENTS ON THE LOCKDOWN BY PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA, 17 MAY 2020
HONOURABLE MEC FOR HEALTH MS NOMAGUGU SIMELANE-ZULU
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
This week we commemorated the International Nurses Day, which we used to pay homage to the intrinsic role played by nurses in the fight against COVID – 19.
Once again, we salute our valued nurses, and wish to assure them of our unwavering support as we continue to implement strategies to defeat the Coronavirus. Equally, we extend our appreciation to health practitioners across the board for their continued involvement in waging the war against COVID – 19.
TRANSITION FROM LEVEL 4 TO LEVEL 3
This media briefing comes at a time when we are preparing to transition from LEVEL 4 to LEVEL 3 of the National Lockdown as announced by the His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.
Our focus today will be to unpack the latest with regard to the pandemic trends in the province as well as to share with you the KZN Integrated COVID-19 Response Plan as we prepare to move to level 3.
Just to refresh our memories; KZN was the first to report a COVID-19 case in the country. Patient Zero was identified on the 5th of March 2020. Since then, the province’s COVID -19 comprehensive response plan has sprung into action in remarkable fashion.
The Province saw a rise in the number of cases and deaths in the ensuing weeks, and we had to embark on extraordinary measures to raise the level of the people’s consciousness about the disease.
We hit the ground running in readying our staff and health care facilities.
There was a period where the province reported a death rate of two people a day as it led all provinces with the numbers of deaths. We can now report that there are days where we report no death. This makes us think and feel that we are making a positive impact with the programmes we have put in place to fight the pandemic.
Since the lockdown was announced and implemented we saw the plateauing of the curve and then the steady decline in the number of new cases and number of deaths.
It must be remembered that we are a province that attracts more tourists – hence at the beginning, most of our cases were imported cases.
We can attest to the fact that the Lockdown has worked for us here in KZN. We have prevented a possible calamity in which thousands of people could have died. The Lockdown has slowed the infection rate and created for us enough time to build capacity, and the capability to mitigate the impact of this pandemic.
CAPACITY CREATED THUS FAR:
In just a few short months, KZN has implemented a successful mass screening and testing programme that has yielded the following results:
• more than 2.4 million people have been screened for COVID – 19
• more than 59 000 people have been tested
• 1498 confirmed positive, and
• 806 recoveries
Sadly, we have lost 45 people as a province, with our bed occupancy in ICU sitting at 1,1% of the available ICU beds. The numbers of recoveries is increasing and we are pleased to see this trend.
We have managed to prepare more than 6400 beds for isolation, quarantine, High care and ICU throughout the province, with each and every district well-represented in this regard.
CURRENT PROVINCIAL SITUATION
Last Sunday, when we spoke, we had 608 people who had recovered. We had 38 patients in Private facilities, and 64 in public. We had 40 deaths.
This week, the number of recoveries stands at 806. These recoveries give us hope that, indeed, COVID – 19 can be defeated.
That said, we continue to see an incline in terms of positive cases. But it is comforting that the number of recoveries is rising. We are working extremely hard to decrease the number of active cases.
If you juxtapose this against where were we in March, the bulk of the cases were in eThekwini and Umgungundlovu – meaning that the pandemic showed an urban-based profile. Subsequent to that, we saw iLembe District overtaking uMgungundlovu. This speaks to the rising cases of local to local transmission.
What is new today about the pandemic that we want to share with you is that the imported trends compared to where we were two months ago, are as follows:
On the 16 May 2020, KwaZulu-Natal Province recorded 17 new cases. The province is currently as of today sitting at 10% in terms of active cases and has moved down to 4th position (highest) countrywide.
While the majority of the new cases ae still coming from Ethekwini,
ILembe district is starting to have more cases per 100 000 infected people if you consider its population size. A trend we are worried about and working to stop.
While areas that were affected more initially were urban we now note an increase in townships and still less of the increase in the rural areas.
We need to work more curb the spread in EThekwini, Ilembe and Umgungundlovu as these are to be closely monitored. EThekwini has 866 of the province’s positive cases, followed by Ilembe at 326, and Umgungundlovu at 64.
TABLE OF BREAKDOWN DISTRICT BY DISTRICT.
District New patients, n (%) Total patients, n (%) Total deaths Case fatality rate (%)
EThekwini 12 (63.0) 866 (63.1) 36 7.3
Ilembe 7 (37.0) 326 (23.8) 1 0.3
UMgungundlovu 0 (0) 64 (4.7) 0 0.0
UThukela 0 (0) 24 (1.7) 2 8.3
King Cetshwayo 0 (0) 21 (1.5) 3 13.6
UMkhanyakude 0 (0) 22 (1.6) 0 0.0
Ugu 0 (0) 19 (1.4) 2 10.5
Amajuba 0 (0) 11 (0.8) 0 0.0
UMzinyathi 0 (0) 4 (0.3) 0 0.0
Zululand 0 (0) 4 (0.3) 0 0.0
Harry Gwala 0 (0) 1 (0.1) 0 0.0
Unallocated 0 (0) 11 (0.8) 0 0.0
Total 19 (100) 1 373 (100) 45 3.2
While we report 45 deaths in the province there was no new death on the 16th of May 2020.
OTHER RECENT DEVELOPMENTS (TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF FACILITIES):
CLUSTER OF CASES IN WORKPLACES
We have noted that clusters occurred in some workplaces including retail shops, bakeries, companies and health care settings. The recent one being a depot in Ethekwini where 39 cases were reported and 5 have recovered. Six of the Province’s Districts have not reported a case as yet and we would like it to be kept that way.
INANDA COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRE (CHC)
Following the positive testing of four nurses and one doctor at Inanda CHC, the Department of Health took a decision to close the facility. This was done as a safety precaution, and to allow for the decontamination of the facility, in accordance with established protocols. We have since tested all employees for Covid-19 and their results are being conveyed to them on a continuous basis. So far, there have been no new positive cases from the facility.
Employees who test negative will be allowed to return to work after a period of quarantine. If any of them test positive, they will not return to work until they test negative.
In the interim, surrounding clinics have been alerted so as to accept patients. To mitigate the impact of this situation and ensure continued healthcare service provision, we have roped in mobile clinics from KwaMashu and Tongaat to service members of the community.
GEN. GIZENGA MPANZA REGIONAL HOSPITAL
This hospital will open from 18th May 2020. The hospital was temporarily closed following the positive testing of nine mothers, 42 staff members, babies and hospital staff. We wish to thank the people of KwaDukuza for their patience and co-operation while this facility remained closed.
We also extend our gratitude to personnel who have been deployed outside these facilities for saving the day and ensuring that our people have continued access to Primary Health Care services.
PROTECTIVE PERSONAL EQUIPMENT (PPE):
As the Province of KwaZulu-Natal we have adequate PPE stock at every facility enough to cope with a demand for more than a month. At this stage we can confirm that we have no shortage of PPE. As a Province, we have put in place a highly effective mechanism to monitor stock availability and ensure adequate replenishment thereof where necessary.
SOCIAL RELIEF INTERVENTION:
Food security has been one of the central focus during the lockdown. We have to date supported over thousands of vulnerable families with food relief.
We are also aware that the majority of our unemployed people in KwaZulu-Natal have applied for the unemployment support grant that will be made available for six months.
PREPARATION FOR LEVEL 3
The Province is preparing itself for the Level 3 lockdown as per the President’s announcement that he is consulting upon. The level 3 means more business sectors will open, use of public transport to increase therefore it requires a vigilant, focussed and accountability by all.
There are strong indications that as KwaZulu-Natal all our regions may move to level 3. However there is a caveat, in order for that to happen and remain that way, everyone will have to comply with the all the non-pharmaceutical approaches to preventing infections.
OSS APPROACH IN PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE
The key guidelines and conditions are that. Everyone will need to wear a mask when venturing out in public.
Our high risk regions in terms of our risk and vulnerability analysis must be strongly examined before the end of May 2020.
Level 3 comes with a lot of movements including inter-provincial travel. This means that our rural areas where most of our elders live may start to be exposed to the virus.
As we prepare to ease the economy further, all businesses, government facilities, municipalities must have in place measures to prevent the spread of the virus and protect people.
The citizens; the business; civil society; government have to work together to ensure that we all adhere to regulations. All businesses have to be sanitised; there must be proof that social distancing can occur in the place of work and in public; sanitisation and handwashing facilities for consumers and staff must be available.
This week we will inspect readiness by all sectors to move to level 3.
We will need to manage the hotspots together and the whole of government, civil society, business approach in this Province is through Sukuma Sakhe which we have integrated into the District Development Model.
At level 3 Hotspots will be in a particular area; particular ward; local municipality and districts. The war rooms, Task teams working will have to drive the behaviour change of communities;
Contact tracing; screening and testing will have to be focused but also hold each other accountable and oversight on whether everyone is adhering to the new normal. This targeted approach means our OSS structures have to be functional right from ward level – war room. At the war room is where behaviour change education programmes will be driven it is where we will monitor if communities and businesses are adhering to the regulations.
The lowering of infections and our ability to manage outbreaks especially as more people will return to work will be strictly monitored. Intensified screening and testing at every public facility. Daily education and awareness campaigns and the preparedness to manage all the new cases that may arise will be key in determining the levels in our provincial districts. We believe that the entire province should move to level 3 and that we act fast if we see a district where concerning trends are emerging.
We urge everyone to play their part. It is in our hands to curb the spread of the virus through the change in our attitudes and behaviour.
We must remind the people of KwaZulu Natal that the fight against COVID-19 is for all of us. It is the responsibility of all to ensure that, through our behaviour and attitude, this war can be won!