Dr Zweli Mkhize has rejected comments made by medical expert Professor Glenda Gray suggesting the government was not taking advice on handling the Covid-19 crisis.
Johannesburg – Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has rejected comments made to local media by a medical expert suggesting the government was not taking advice on handling the Covid-19 crisis.
Professor Glenda Gray, who chairs the research sub-committee on a team of 50 expert Covid-19 pandemic advisors to the government, in a recent interview criticised some of the regulations around a nationwide lockdown to try and curb transmissions of the disease, saying one of the negative consequences has been a flare-up in malnutrition among children.
Gray, who is chief executive of the South African Medical Research Council, also said some of the rules were not grounded in science.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, Mkhize said the government had based its Covid-19 responses on 50 advisories provided by the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, of which Gray is a member.
“At no point has the department of health or government as a whole ignored and not responded to the advice,” he said. “The statement made by Prof Glenda Gray is at the least devoid of the truth.”
He said the government did not claim “to have it all figured out” in grappling with the coronavirus, noting that President Cyril Ramaphosa had constantly stated that South Africa, like many other countries around the world, was in uncharted waters.
Mkhize defended the continued closure of schools in response to the virus, saying the department of basic education had been engaged in various consultations with its stakeholders on the correct approach to take in the process of reopening them.
“It can never be Prof Gray’s place to make such comments without being aware of the details, the advice and the process the department of basic education has followed,” the health minister said.
Divergent views by scientists were healthy and welcome, Mkhize said, adding that the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 provided a platform for robust engagement among top scientists who were leaders of various respectable institutions and organisations.
“However I must urge all those who are contributing to the thought process and science behind the decisions ultimately undertaken by government to desist from potentially destructive behaviour and continue to engage constructively with government as they are mandated,” he added.
African News Agency/ANA