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12 million HIV, TB patients should not be neglected while SA deals with Covid-19 – Mkhize

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File picture: GCIS

THE CONTINUED treatment of HIV and TB cases remains critical as the country faces a storm in coronavirus-related cases, says Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Mkhize said it was important to ensure that citizens who suffer from comorbidities continued accessing treatment and a tough balancing act was needed to ensure that this happens.

The country has about eight million HIV-positive people and four million TB patients. There have been concerns about such diseases being neglected because of the health system’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

Mkhize said this was something the country’s health care system could not afford to neglect and TB and HIV patients should continue to receive treatment. He said in many hospitals systems have been set up to ensure the division of patients and the continued treatment of critical illnesses.

Mkhize was briefing the media on Monday on the government’s measures in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The minister said the entire country, and not just the Western Cape, had shifted to a targeted approach in dealing with hot spots and coronavirus cases.

He said this included treating and testing the elderly.

“We said we would change the prioritisation. We shifted the focus on targeted groups that are vulnerable. We have focused on senior citizens and those who needed hospitalisation and health care workers. 

“This is to ensure tighter management of infections. We have also applied this turnaround time of 48 hours that needs to be achieved for testing,” Mkhize said.

He spoke in the briefing about the justification for the 9pm to 4am curfew and cited China, where in certain circumstances a rise in cases was seen in outdoor activities, with some accruing after-hours.

“A curfew is to limit the number of those who get infected. We expected the numbers to be higher. The peak may not be at the worse-possible scenarios and all of this depends on our own behaviours. 

“If we do not manage the situation properly, then the numbers could be higher than we have predicted,” Mkhize said.

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