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DA wrong to politicise battle against Covid-19 - Mkhize

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DA wrong to politicise battle against Covid-19 - Mkhize

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize

20th July 2020

By: News24Wire

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has called on the Democratic Alliance (DA) to refrain from politicising the battle against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

"Partitioning across party lines is destructive and we want to dissuade the DA from doing this.

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The government has intervened whenever there was a need in any part of the country, and we are always ready to support any province that is experiencing problems," he told News24.

Mkhize was responding to claims made by the DA last week. He said there was no separate plan for the Western Cape that was not applicable throughout the country, warning against "political point scoring", saying there were real weaknesses that needed everyone's attention.

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"It's wrong for the DA to try and politicise Covid-19 responses because the crisis is bigger than any political party." He accused the party, which governs the Western Cape, of distorting weaknesses occurring across different parts of the country. Last week, the DA, in launching its "action plan for an incapable state", praised the Western Cape government's approach to the pandemic, saying it was the only province which had successfully managed to control the numbers pertaining to the spread of the virus.

The party's leaders said they were outraged by developments at healthcare facilities, highlighting their concerns over the collapse of the sector in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

The DA also suggested the rest of the country should follow the Western Cape’s approach to the pandemic, of which Mkhize said there were plenty of issues there regarding its response to the virus. He added there were different manifestations of the pandemic across provinces.

"There were and continue to be a number of weaknesses in the Western Cape which we discussed with them actually. "When they had weak track and trace, the highest number of cases, lowest uptake of Q&I [quarantine and isolation], spread during lockdown, and in June, 80% of HCW infected were in Western Cape."

Mkhize said the Western Cape still had more Covid-19 deaths than any other province in the country.

He added the government was aware the pandemic had exposed weaknesses that already existed and like everywhere else in the world, the country's own health systems would be tested.

Mkhize also gave a provincial breakdown of field hospitals, adding Gauteng's oxygen challenges had been given adequate attention and the province had not exceed its current bed levels.

Here is a breakdown of preparations for field hospitals, which Mkhize shared with News24:

1. Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth VW field hospital (planned for 1 400 beds) - 35% complete.

2. Free State

2.1.Intra-Health Care Facility Surge (Field)

a. Universitas underground management parking (110 beds) - Contractor on site

b. House Idahlia (60 high care beds) - Contractor on site

c. MANCOVS Pelonomi (176 beds) - Contractor on site

d. M1 Pelonomi (120 beds) - Contractor on site

e. Bongani Nurses Dormitory (150 beds) - Awaiting contractors

f. Itumeleng CHC (200 beds) - Awaiting contractors

g. Manapo Hospital Hall (53 beds) - Awaiting contractors

h. Albert Nzula Hospital (95 beds) - Contractors on site.

2.2. Extra healthcare facility surge capacity

a. Bloemfontein Field Hospital (Bloemfontein Showground: 936 to 3 316 beds) - Service level agreement signed, and planning completed.

3. Gauteng NASREC Field hospital (500 beds) - completed.

4. KwaZulu-Natal Royal Agriculture Showground field hospital (254 beds) in Pietermaritzburg is operational. Three field hospitals in Ngwelezane (113 beds), General Justice Ginzenga Mapanza (113 beds) and Clairwood Hospital (226 beds) are still under construction.

5. Limpopo indicated it would prefer to upgrade existing infrastructure for permanency.

6. Mpumalanga has not built any field hospitals as yet.

7. The Northern Cape has not built any field hospitals as yet.

8. North West Maseve field hospital (200 beds) - 90% ready.

9. The Western Cape:

a. CTICC 870 beds - completed

b. Thusong 68 beds - completed

c. Brackengate 330 beds - Existing warehouse, design for the facility has been completed. Planned first patient admission was 7 July 2020.

Mkhize said an extensive communications strategy to inform the public about the pandemic had been implemented and this included content being shared through TV and radio stations, on pamphlets, partnering with businesses, contact activations at taxi ranks and the use of digital platforms.

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