Funerals have been identified as an area of concern amid the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has said.
Cape Town – Funerals have been identified as an area of concern amid the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.
“We have to underline the importance of keeping to a low number of people attending funerals because there are various things which are associated with funerals which may create a challenge,” Mkhzie said.
“We have observed that people who are attending funerals (even with the limited number of 50) are becoming at risk to contract Covid-19 because of the cultural behaviours or rituals that are performed at such funerals.
“Social distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic. Unfortunately, we have observed that people hug and hold each other at funerals (as part of giving comfort), they cry and cough next to each other, pass a spade to each other to pour the sand, they wash hands in one basin, and have a buffet meal where they use the same spoons to dish up.
“We wish to warn South Africans, if you attend a funeral and practice any of the above behaviour, you are at risk to be infected with Covid-19. The reality is there could be one person at that funeral who is Covid-19 positive and may not be aware.
“We emphasise that if you do not have to, do not attend a funeral. When you do, practice maximum hygiene, ie wash your hands, social distancing and wear a cloth mask,” Mkhize said.
On Saturday Mkhize announced that South Africa’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have increased to 3034 with two new deaths bringing the total number of deaths to 52.
This means an increase of 251 new confirmed coronavirus cases from Friday’s 2 783 cases, the highest single day increase South Africa has had since its first confirmed case on March 5.
Mkhize said he had a meeting with provincial leaders earlier on Saturday and the issues raised had been the Correctional Services department in the Eastern Cape and people coming to funerals.
Mkhize said that 108 021 people have been tested, but the number of tests done is 123 000.
“When we started 98-99% of tests were done in the private sector because of the nature of the first few cases that we had.
“But now that we are screening in the communities we have increased the numbers in the public sector. Over the past 24 hours we have done 7 194 tests.”
Mkhize said according to analysis, in the US for every five people tested, one is positive. In SA, however, for every one person testing positive, we would have done 38 tests.
He added that close to 900 000 people have been screened and out of those 11 000 have been referred for testing.
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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.