AS the country is preparing for life on lockdown, Health Minister Dr Zwelinzima Mkhize has called citizens to be more responsible and refrain from organizing parties indoors and thereby risk contracting Coronavirus.
Mkhize, speaking on various television interviews, called on people to refrain from moving between provinces in large numbers as national roads started experiencing traffic volumes as people are suspected to make their to the villages on Wednesday morning ahead of the lockdown which kicks in effectively on Friday.
On the N1 towards Limpopo, that province’s health MEC Dr Phopi Ramathuba is part of a roadblock at Mantsole traffic control outside Pretoria where motorists are reportedly being screened for temperatures.
Ramathuba has been vocal in appealing for Limpopo residents working in Gauteng not to visit the villages during the lockdown and holidays saying they risked spreading the virus not poor villagers.
Mkhize said the health of the nation will depend to every citizens being responsible and adhering to measures that have already been announced to curb the spread of the virus.
The minister said so far he has been encouraged by how sectors have responded to the call, pointing out to cancellations of sports activities and church gatherings during the Easter weekend as some of the moves that will help contain the virus as the number of confirmed cases soured to 709 this morning.
“This a major battle that we are fighting. We are on a combat zone but we must all know each and everyone of us is a soldier. Fight to make sure that we prevent the infection to you and also to your family members,” he said.
Mkhize said the government has asked people to stay at home as a first measure and now that it’s going to be a 21 nationwide lockdown they want people to behave and not treat is a holiday.
Mkhize it’s generally difficult to police people and they are appealing to citizens to adhere to measures.
He added that they were hoping that soldiers who had been roped in to assist the police would not be forced to crackdown on defiant people. He emphasized that would be allowed to take walks but that should not be done in groups. Preferably people should take these walks alone.
“The approach is that if you stay put, you are reducing the risk of someone spreading to you or you spreading it to them. Those who have infections we are managing them so stay at home.
“It’s the mixing of the number of people that is a problem. We want discourage people, you can’t be in a house and all of you are just sitting and doing nothing. If it’s a funeral we do understand. What we are discouraging is when people are sitting in large numbers, drinking, smoking and coughing to each other,” he said.
He said the department will be rolling out testing stations soon.
Mkhize also has a special mention for the Free State which saw the number of cases increase by 15, saying that is an area people should look out for after five foreign nationals who attended the Divine Restoration Church in the Mangaung area tested positive.
He called on those who has attended the gathering to come forward and contact the Free State health department so they can be tested. He said those who has been traced have been quarantined and they will be now moving from those who has been to the gathering to those who have been in contact with them.
He believes the number of cases will continue to rise in the next coming days but said they will not be testing everybody but rather those who show symptoms or those who have been in contact with those who tested positive.
“The numbers will increase, I think we must be upfront about it. The numbers will increase for various reasons, one, the numbers of people who have been exposed until they are put in quarantine,” he said.
He said currently the department was talking to hotels to trace those who may have arrived in the country from high risk countries.