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Nobody has all the answers – Mkhize

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However, he said his department would depend on several models to monitor South Africa’s Covid-19 outbreak.

File photo: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

WITH South Africa’s Covid-19 positive infections hitting more than 19 000 and a recorded 369 coronavirus-related deaths, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on 

Thursday that much was still unknown about the virus.

However, he said his department would depend on several models to monitor South Africa’s Covid-19 outbreak.

One of the models, led by the Modelling and Simulation Hub, Africa, from the University of Cape Town, on Tuesday projected that the country could have a million Covid-19 infections and upwards of 40000 deaths by November.

In a briefing held by the Department of Health on Thursday, Covid-19 modellers added more grim news for the country as they projected that it faced the risk of running out of intensive care unit beds as early as next month.

The modellers said that the Western Cape, in particular, which currently led the country with 12153 positive cases and 235 deaths, faced the biggest risk of running out of ICU beds.

Mkhize said that there had been no Covid-19 model that had been able to predict what has happened in the Western Cape upfront.

“The one model that I saw predicted that it was going to be Gauteng that would be exploding first, and that Gauteng would be followed by KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

The presentation by the organisation on Tuesday showed that currently the country had only 4000 ICU beds available, with the latest projections now indicating South Africa could run out of such beds as early as next month.

On Thursday, Mkhize told South Africans that they must appreciate that the virus had been an unfolding pandemic and that everyone had been learning over the past few months what it means for the country.

He said that the whole world was struggling with the same pandemic and nobody had all the answers. “But there are many lessons to learn that can guide our response as South Africans.”

On Tuesday evening, Mkhize took a swipe at Professor Glenda Gray, chairperson of the research sub-committee team of 50 expert Covid-19 pandemic advisers to the government, who had recently criticised some of the regulations of the nationwide lockdown, saying that they had not been grounded in science with one impact of the lockdown regulations being a flare-up in malnutrition among children.

However, Mkhize said that Gray’s comments were “at the least devoid of the truth”.

“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,” Mkhize said.