STATEMENT BY THE PREMIER OF KWAZULU-NATAL HON MR SIHLE ZIKALALA DURING A MEDIA BRIEFING ON COVID – 19, 19 JULY 2020.
Hon. MEC for Health Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu
Officials present
Members of the Media
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME
We once again extend a warm welcome to members of the media, who continue to be our valued partners in our fight against COVID – 19 through empowering citizens with knowledge and information.

NELSON MANDELA INTERNATIONAL DAY
We also wish to congratulate all individuals, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the business community at large who joined hands with us yesterday by displaying a strong spirit of volunteerism as part of Nelson Mandela International Day.

In a moving display of humanitarianism, some of these compatriots unveiled brand new homes, others delivered food parcels, and others delivered lectures and messages of hope to the poor.

Many of activities and discussions took place under a very important theme: “Tackling Inequality: A new social contract for a new era.”

These warm and kind gestures of goodwill carry an even higher level of significance at a time like this, when COVID – 19 has caused so much economic devastation, including the loss of people’s livelihoods through the closure of firms and job losses.

Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of our time, dedicated his entire life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, international peacemaker, and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.
Occasions such as Nelson Mandela International Day therefore remind us of the importance of looking within, and asking ourselves how we can be of service and assistance to those who are less fortunate.

But this is a question that we should not ask ourselves only on this one day, but at every given opportunity, throughout the year, so that we can make every day Mandela day.

CONDOLENCES TO THE MANDELA FAMILY ON THE PASSING OF THEIR DAUGHTER ZINDZI
In the same breath, we once again send our deepest condolences to the Mandela family on the loss of their daughter Zindzi – a freedom fighter in her own right, and our ambassador to Denmark – who passed away on Monday and was laid to rest on Friday.
Sithi hamba kahle dadewethu. To the Mandela family, sithi duduzekani, nilale ngenxeba. Alwehlanga olungehliyo.

ENHANCED LEVEL 3 SHOW SIGNS OF EASING STRAIN ON HOSPITALS
This week, we welcomed announcements by the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, on the enhanced Level 3 adjusted risk strategy, which he made on behalf of Cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCC).

We re-iterate our support of the decision by the NCC to ban, with immediate effect, the sale of alcohol; the introduction of the 9pm – 4am curfew; as well as legalizing the wearing of masks.

Since this announcement, our preliminary analysis indicates that the decision was correct. We are already starting to see some signs of the easing of pressure on our trauma, accident and emergency units in hospitals, as well as the mortuary admissions of people who died from violent causes.
In one of our Durban hospitals, from the 6th to the 12th of July we had 155 trauma cases. But one week since the re-introduction of the ban on alcohol, from the 13th to the 18th we only had 120 trauma cases. We expect a further reduction in this regard, the longer the ban continues.

The PROVJOINTS under the police have also seen a drastic reduction in serious crime over the last week as compared to the weeks before that. We have always maintained that alcohol is a contributing factor in murders, attempted murders, assaults, rapes and domestic violence. We have seen a reduction in these crimes since the police in the province started enforcing the ban on the sale distribution of alcohol. Due to the implementation of a curfew that is imposed criminals have not been able to move freely anymore and many have been intercepted by police during the curfew hours. This has also contributed in the reduction of serious crimes such as robberies.

We are convinced that this positive trend will continue and this bodes well for the strategies of the PROVJOINTS to limit the spread of the virus.

We once again urge the people of KwaZulu-Natal to co-operate and support this decision as it is in the health interest of our citizens. We know it’s not easy, but in the greater scheme of things, it is the right thing to do.

As the Government of KwaZulu-Natal, we will ensure that there is tightening of the implementation of the announcements by the President. This will be our contribution to the reduction of the rate of infections, in order to ensure that beds in our provincial health care facilities are utilized to assist the sick, and that alcohol-induced accidents are eliminated.

ACKNOWLEDGING ORGANISED LABOUR AS AN IMPORTANT ALLY IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID – 19
We wish to acknowledge and affirm the role and positioning of organised labour formations as an important ally in our fight against the common enemy that is COVID – 19.

As Government, we will continue to ensure that health care workers and every other category of employees who are at particular risk of contracting COVID – 19 have all the protection that they need to prevent getting infected.

Organised labour is a vanguard of the working class. They are our comrades, brothers and sisters. They are a vital vessel that links us as Government with the foot soldiers who give meaning to our policies and programmes as part of the National Democratic Revolution.
Therefore, where challenges inevitably arise, we will always welcome robust engagement – so long as it is constructive.

COVID – 19 STATISTICS IN THE PROVINCE
As predicted, our curve is rising as we continue to see a sustained rate of transmissions in the province, just as in the rest of the country.
As of yesterday, KwaZulu-Natal has had 40 045 positive cases, of which 28 574 were still active. Sadly, we had 136 new deaths this week, bringing our toll to 416. We also had 2 758 new cases, and 11 055 recoveries.

A week ago, we had 23 751 positive cases, of which 17 450 were still active; 280 deaths, and 6021 recoveries. This therefore means that in just one week, we have had 19 706 new COVID - 19 cases, 136 new deaths, and 5 034 additional recoveries.

The province contributed 21% of the new cases reported nationally and continues to be the fourth highest countrywide.
The surge continues with Ethekwini and UMgungundlovu Districts recording more than half of the daily cases.

The mushrooming of private laboratories continues to be a challenge in the province. Some of these diagnosing laboratories do not complete demographic details of the patients (i.e. residential address, telephone numbers and facility names. As a result, the province is experiencing an increase in number of unallocated cases.

DISTRIBUTION OF CASES BY REPORTING DATE AND DISTRICT
The number of cases reported in the province since the beginning of July was 1 667. Of the 2 758 new cases that had been recorded by 18 July 2020, eThekwini District has recorded 44%, followed by UMgungundlovu (18%). UMgungundlovu District remains the second-highest with COVID-19 cases provincially, and has been receiving a median of 270 cases daily since the beginning of June 2020. Ethekwini District has been receiving a median of 781 cases daily since the beginning of June 2020, while Amajuba District has been receiving a median of 60 cases daily within the same period.


Distribution of cases and deaths by district, KwaZulu-Natal, 5 Mar-18 Jul 2020
District New cases of New cases 

1. EThekwini 1 220

2. ILembe 111

3. UMgungundlovu 389 

4. UThukela 139 

5. King Cetshwayo 225 

6. UGu 96 

7. Amajuba 231

8. UMkhanyakude 24 

9. Harry Gwala 72 

10. Zululand 146 

11.  UMzinyathi 79 

Unallocated 26 


Total 2 758

LABORATORY STATUS IN THE PROVINCE

Of the 2 758 new cases that had been reported by 18 July 2020, private laboratories confirmed 71 % of the cases.
Laboratory testing status by laboratory type, KwaZulu-Natal, 2020

HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS/ISOLATIONS
On 18 Jul 2020, the province had 1 612 patients admitted in both private (n=1 220, 76%) and public (n=392, 24%) hospitals. Of those admitted, 265 patients (16%) required intensive care. Among those who required intensive care, 52% (n=139) were ventilated. Other patients (n=181) were admitted in high care units in both private (n=180) and public (n=1) facilities.

PERSONS UNDER INVESTIGATION
KwaZulu-Natal has had an increase in the number of persons under investigation (PUI) admitted in public facilities. Thirteen of the admitted PUIs occupied ICU beds, with the vast majority of them on ventilators.
PUI-Persons under investigation

INFECTED HEALTH CARE WORKERS
Among the 40 045 cases in KwaZulu-Natal, 1 557 (4%) health care workers (HCWs) are infected with COVID-19. Approximately 60% of the infected HCWs are nurses. Of the total infected, less than a percentage (n=12) have succumbed to the disease since the beginning of the pandemic. Nevertheless, those deaths are 12 too many. Again, may their souls rest in peace. We send our deepest condolences to their families.

CO-MORBIDITIES
The most common recorded co-morbidities among the deceased are hypertension (29%) and diabetes mellitus (29%). The proportion of HIV-infected (6%) deceased patients – and those with no recorded comorbidities - has increased.

RECOVERIES
The overall proportion of recoveries for the province is 28% (n=11 055). The increase in the number of new cases contributes to a decrease in the proportion of recoveries.

CONTACT TRACING
The Province of KwaZulu-Natal has managed to identify 33 781 contacts. UGu and UMzinyathi Districts have the highest proportion of contacts who tested positive.
COMMUNITY AND FACILITY SCREENING AND TESTING, KWAZULU-NATAL, APRIL-JULY 2020
A total of 8 848 783 cases were screened in the community and facilities to date. The positivity rate for community and facility screening was 3.4% as at 15 July 2020.
In this regard, we thank all those who made themselves available to be screened and tested. We also pay tribute to our teams on the ground who are carrying out this very important work.

Conclusion;
As we conclude, we want to invite fellow citizens to play their part in the fight against this pandemic. There are no police officers; or government officials that can enforce the change in behaviour at home and at an individual level. Our defence weapons are our face masks, social distancing and regular washing of hands. Remember that there is no vaccine. The price to pay for not adhering to the protocols is too high; it is in our hands to save ourselves and those we love from this deadly pandemic. We are now in the most critical season of an alarming spike in infections. Just yesterday, we registered 13000 cases in our day in the country. The number of cases we are registering per day is worrying.
When we say “It’s in our hands” it’s not just a cliché, but a real call to arms. It really is up to you and I to make a difference.
This is not the time to lower our guard, but to up the ante and prevent further infections. Ngokubambisana, sizoyinqoba i-COVID – 19.

Ends