News24 Wire
Wire Service
4 minute read
1 Jun 2020
6:44 pm

Don’t panic or overindulge in booze, says Mkhize as Covid-19 total increases

News24 Wire

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa had risen to 34,357.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has remembered the more than 50,000 people who have lost their lives to Covid-19 during a webinar on 4 March 2021 hosted by the National Press Club and the GCIS. Picture: AFP/File/GUILLEM SARTORIO

South Africans have been urged not to panic buy or over-indulge in alcohol by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who also announced the latest Covid-19 statistics on Monday.

The minister – who on Monday went on a tour of four facilities in Cape Town to be used in the fight against Covid-19 – reported on three crucial resources to survive the pandemic.

First, Mkhize made a plea for South Africans to consider applying to be trained as nurses – and called on any retired nurses to consider returning to active duty.

Second, Mkhize called on any doctors in the private sector, to consider “coming on board” and joining the state healthcare service.

And third, Mkhize inspected South Africa’s latest new “field hospitals” – which have been converted from a massive sports centre, and a private sector warehouse in one of Cape Town’s high-tech logistics hubs.

As Level 3 opened on Monday, and bottle stores opened legally after 65 days since March 26, the national health head urged his countrymen to “reduce their consumption”.

Long queues formed at many bottle stores around the country on Monday following the ban on alcohol being lifted.

1 647 new cases, 22 new deaths

Mkhize was on a whistle-stop tour of the Western Cape’s four primary temporary new “field hospitals” – set up to help the health system cope with the anticipated “peak” of Covid-19 cases.

Mkhize warned he still believed there would be a “huge storm and a surge” of infections, and reported that the Western Cape now made up 65.7% of cases nationally, and almost 60% of deaths thus far.

The new death toll, after 22 deaths in the past 24 hours, was 705. The country now had a new total of 34 357 cases.

On Monday, Mkhize first inspected the 862-bed hospital fitted out at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, presented to the media last week by provincial Premier Alan Winde.

Next, Mkhize visited the Old Mutual-provided building near the company’s head office in Pinelands – which is due to serve as a “quarantine and isolate” (Q&I) facility – capable of hosting whole families, including children.

New bed facilities

The health minister then visited Khayelitsha, where he officially opened a newly-converted “Thusong Centre” – a modern City of Cape Town community indoor sports facility – into a 60-bed hospital.

This was a partnership with Medicins Sans Frontieres (also known as Doctors Without Borders), and several important donors.

Mkhize said this facility was particularly crucial as the Khayelitsha area was known to have high levels of certain co-morbidities.

This facility in the heart of the community would do much to allay the anxiety of many, he reported.

Along the R300 highway, Mkhize visited the Brackengate development – home to dozens or arching mega-warehouses and distribution centres.

Inside one of these, a 300-bed hospital is being built. Together, the four facilities will provide an extra 1 400 beds to the Western Cape’s capacity.

Extra capacity

Speaking after his tour, Mkhize warned that bed numbers alone would not be sufficient.

He announced the Western Cape would receive extra capacity for testing, to remove existing backlogs – this in response to a plea by Winde and his team, who met Mkhize this morning.

On staffing, Mkhize said the Western Cape and Eastern Cape would need significantly more healthcare workers.

In addition to appealing for nurses and doctors to sign up for service, Mkhize also introduced one of the leaders of the Cuban delegation of doctors.

Dr Pedro Armas told News24 their 28-strong team of professionals in the Western Cape comprised 18 doctors – at least half of whom had served in South Africa previously.

He described his colleagues as “highly qualified”, with around 20 years’ experience each, especially as “family physicians”.

“This week we have been on a familiarisation to different hospitals – like Karl Bremer and Tygerberg hospitals – and we are ready to work.”

The Cuban contingent in South Africa numbered a total of around 180 doctors.

Mkhize said he remained positive, and congratulated the Western Cape Government, and all levels of government and civil society, for collaborating in a spirit of co-operation.


Total cases for 31 May 2020

Percentage total

Eastern Cape



Free State















North West



Northern Cape



Western Cape









A total of 742,742 tests had been processed cumulatively, of which 17,617 tests were conducted since the last report.


Total tested

New tested


368 200

9 026


374 542

8 591

Grand Total

742 742

17 617

The total national recoveries rose to 16,808.

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