Premier Sihle Zikalala: Media briefing on Coroavirus COVID-19

27 Jul 2020

Statement by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Hon Mr Sihle Zikalala during a media briefing on COVID-19, 26 July 2020

Hon. MEC for Health Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu
Officials present
Members of the Media
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction and welcome

Thank you for once again gracing us with your presence as we continue to keep the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the nation informed regarding the status quo for COVID – 19.

Wishing all affected people a speedy recovery

We wish to start by expressing our wishes for a speedy recovery to all our compatriots who, as we speak, are waging a winnable fight against COVID-19. The high number of recoveries are inspiring hope that working together we will beat Coronavirus. We wish Minister of Mineral Resources Mr Gwede Mantashe and his wife Nolwandle; and Minister of Employment and Labour and Mr Thulas Nxesi; as well as all South Africans who have contracted COVID – 19 a speedy recovery. We send our prayers, love and support to all our compatriots. Get well soon.

The storm is here

Ladies and gentlemen, the trends and analysis we will present today tell us that KwaZulu-Natal is now in the eye of the storm. The picture has dramatically changed. We have now arrived at a point where almost everyone knows somebody who has been infected with Covid-19. It is no longer a disease from the distance, it is here at home.

It is now our friends, colleagues, neighbours, brothers, mothers and siters that we know that have confirmed to us that they have tested positive. The storm is here and can be seen through the unprecedented number of infections. It is unleashing a lot of impacts. It is raging. It requires us to, more than ever before, be more vigilant, and to adhere to protocols. It is very painful to see people falling sick, and sometimes dying.

We hope that even those few doubting Thomases who are in denial can now see that COVID – 19 is here; it is real; and it is deadly. It is therefore time to change behaviour. This is the time to muster the courage to do the right things, such as wearing of masks, washing our hands with soap, and social distancing.

The best way to manage in these uncertain times and to contend with the many unknowns about COVID-19 is to follow the protocols that are known.

Funerals, gatherings and ceremonies increase the rate of infections

As we commence this briefing, we want to plead with our citizens to continue to adhere to the protocols that regulate the number of people who can attend funerals and ceremonies, which is not more than 50 people. The current protocols further stipulate that there should be even a lesser number at the burial site. We know that this practice is against our spirit of Ubuntu; but to adhere to it will be to honour our departed compatriots – and to keep ourselves safe.

We have observed with concern that many people have been flouting the funeral and gatherings protocols, which were put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Burials have now become larger; so have ceremonies, which puts people at a high risk.

As we exercise measures to weather the storm, we ask that our structures on the ground - from traditional leaders, councillors, ward committees, church leaders, izinduna, should help us to implement tighter measures for funerals and ceremonies.

Balancing scientific medical treatment and alternative treatment

We are concerned by the late presentation of COVID – 19 patients to our healthcare facilities. When we engage with doctors and nurses, we get given anecdotal evidence that seems to suggest that our people are relying a little too much on alternative treatments, and only coming to our facilities when it is too late. With COVID – 19, as with every other ailment, time is of the essence.

I want to emphasise that we are not against alternative and traditional medicine at all. Rather, we are encouraging our people to use an integrated approach in fighting COVID -19.

Noma ugquma, udla amakhathakhatha, kodwa sithi fika nasesikhungweni sezempilo. Kungcono ukukusebenzisa kokubili, kunokulinda isikhathi size sidlule kakhulu.

If you suspect you might be COVID – positive, reach out and ask for help.

Each public healthcare facility can screen individuals coming through their doors, and all persons that meet the criteria for testing will be directed accordingly for testing within that facility.

These are only people who exhibit symptoms for COVID-19 which are, among others, fever, cough, sore throat, muscle ache, loss of taste, loss of smell. This list of signs and symptoms is evolving with the evolving understanding of the COVID-19 virus.

Being a contact doesn’t automatically qualify one for testing. You have to be monitored for 10 days from the last day of contact with a known infected person. Only if you start having signs or symptoms within this time of observation will you get tested. If you test too early, before having symptoms, you are likely to get a false negative result.

Fighting hospital stigma

We have also noted the increasing stigmatisation of our healthcare facilities. Some people seem to have this false belief that if you go to hospital you will die. That is not true. Our healthcare workers are bravely fighting this disease, often placing their own lives at risk, and many people are getting discharged and recovering after receing treatment. Now is not a time for fear, but for us to spread facts so that we can foster a better understanding of COVID – 19, including how it can be prevented and how to access help for those who are affected.

Better to quarantine or isolate at a Govt facility than at home

Given the rate at which our infections are growing, we have to do everything possible to save lives. One of the things we want to emphasise is the importance for people to be quarantined or isolated at a Government facility. We have enough capacity. We are urging COVID - 19 patients to come forward and be quarantined and/or isolated at these facilities that have been made available by Government. This will help ensure that patients are well-monitored, and less likely to transmit the virus to others - unlike at home, where adhering to safety protocols may be a challenge.

We have 16 401 beds available in KZN, of which more than 3000 are for isolation. We also decided that instead of building more quarantine sites, we should be able to hire buildings such as hotels, B&Bs, and lodges.

Out of those, we have 11 833 beds that we can use. We also have 1162 quarantine beds within our own buildings.

Hotspot districts and local areas afflicted by COVID – 19

We have decided this time to make known every district, suburb, and township that appears to be bearing the most brunt of COVID – 19. We are hoping that this will make people realise that the virus is close to them – without stigmatising any areas, or making other people feel too safe from it.

In this regard, we hereby announce that the surge is continuing, with Ethekwini and UMgungundlovu Districts recording more than half of the daily cases. The province has contributed 27% of the new cases reported nationally and continues to be the fourth highest countrywide.

A week ago, we had 40 045 positive cases, of which 2 574 were still active. We also had 2 758 new cases, and 11 055 recoveries.

As of yesterday (25 July 2020), KwaZulu-Natal has had 60 602 positive cases, of which 38 667 were still active. Sadly, we once again had new deaths this week, bringing our death toll to 614.

Our daily COVID – positive cases are nearing 4000, as we observed that just yesterday alone we recorded 3 405 new cases. This therefore means that in just one week, we have had 20 557 new COVID - 19 cases; 198 new deaths, and 10 196 additional recoveries. Our recoveries to date as a province stands at 21 251.

Breakdown of COVID cases per district and area

District Hot Spot Area

  • EThekwini Umlazi, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Inanda, Newlands, Tongaat, Pinetown, Westville, Ntuzuma,
  • Umgungundlovu Umsunduzi (CBD, Elandskop, Grange, Bisley, Imbali, LIncon Maede, Hayfields, Montain Rise, Northdale, Scottsvile, Sobantu
  • Mpofana (Townville)
  • Mkhambathini (Maqongqo)
  • Richmond (Thornville)
  • Harry Gwala Umzimkhulu
  • King Cethwayo Umlalazi (Nogobhoza reserve, Ezingwenya, Nkume, Island, Vuma, Eziqwaqweni, Edankweni, Imbizo, Emaqeleni, Umlalazi, Ezinkiliji, Amandawe)
  • Nkandla (Within Ekombe Hospital and Mashinga).
  • Umhlathuze (Ngwelezana Township, Jabulani, Matsana and Qalakabusha Correctional Services, Ngwelezana Township A & B section.
  • Mthonjaneni:(Melmoth Town, Thubalethu Phase 1-5, Mfanefile, Nkwenkwe, Mgabhi Store and Ndabazensangu area
  • Ilembe KwaDukuza. Mandeni
  • Ugu Port Shepstone, Gamalakhe, Margate, Murchison, Nzimakhwe, Harding, Scottburgh
  • Umkhanyakude Hlabisa
  • Umzinyathi Umvoti.
  • Pomeroy (Nhlanhleni)
  • Umsinga (Cosh wards, Esidakeni, Othulin Lwezulu
  • Zululand Abaqulusi (Mondlo, Vryheid Town, Bhekuzulu, Hlobane)
  • EDumbe (Paulpietersburg, Town, Tholakele
  • Ceza (Echibini Area, Brush area, Nsukazi area
  • Pongolo (Ncotshane, Kwa Lubisi)
  • Nongoma (Dabhasi, Maphophoma, Nongoma Town, Usuthu, White City
  • Uthukela Alfred Duma (Observation
  • Steadville
  • Accaciaville
  • Inkosi Langalibalele (Phangweni
  • C Section, CBD, Bhekuzulu,
  • Amajuba Newcastle: Osizweni, Madadeni.
  • Madlangeni: Utrect Town
  • Danhuuser:Durnacol, shepstopne Lake

Surveillance and epidemiology

Distribution of cases by reporting date and district

Of the 3 405 new cases recorded on 25 July 2020, eThekwini District has recorded 53% followed by UMgungundlovu (9%). UMgungundlovu District remains the second highest with COVID-19 cases provincially followed by King Cetshwayo and Amajuba

  • Ethekwini District has been receiving a median of 834 cases (range 380-1 738 cases) daily since the beginning of July 2020 while UMgungundlovu District has been receiving a median of 292 cases (range 73-690 cases) daily since the beginning of July 2020.
  • King Cetshwayo District, the third highest (overtook Ilembe) has been reporting a median of 126 cases (range 49-266 cases) since the beginning of July 2020. The district is also the third highest in deaths provincially.
  • Amajuba District has been receiving a median of 862 cases daily (range 15-248 cases) within the same period.

Distribution of cases and deaths by District, Kwazulu-Natal, 5 MAR-25 JUL 2020

District New cases %. New cases Total cases %.Total Deaths Case Fatality rate (%)

  • EThekwini 1 796 52.7 30 074 49.7 345 1.1
  • ILembe 104 3.1 2 637 4.4 19 0.7
  • UMgungundlovu 312 9.2 9 015 14.9 85 0.9
  • UThukela 143 4.2 2 804 4.6 30 1.1
  • King Cetshwayo 251 7.4 4 188 6.9 50 1.2
  • UGu 204 6.0 2 424 4.0 15 0.6
  • Amajuba 258 7.6 3 110 5.1 19 0.6
  • UMkhanyakude 45 1.3 687 1.1 10 1.5
  • Harry Gwala 66 1.9 1 390 2.3 17 1.2
  • Zululand 106 3.1 2 095 3.5 16 0.7
  • UMzinyathi 88 2.6 1 299 2.1 8 0.6
  • Unallocated 32 0.9 809 1.3 0 0.0

Total 3 405 100.0 60 532 100.0 614 1.0

*NB: Due to tranfer in and out of patients, some demise in the districts they were transferred to, contributing to change in number of deaths by district due to reallocation

Incidence risk by district (per 100 000 population)

District Total cases Cumulative

incidence risk/

  • 100 000 Mid-2019*(n) Active cases Incidence risk/
  • 100 000
  • EThekwini 30 074 799.5 3 761 465 18 764 498.8
  • ILembe 2 637 374.1 7 049 66 1 708 242.3
  • UMgungundlovu 9 015 773.5 1 165 427 4 365 374.5
  • UThukela 2 804 369.5 758 834 1 476 194.5
  • King Cetshwayo 4 188 419.6 998 053 2 587 259.2
  • UGu 2 424 308.0 787 096 1 983 251.9
  • Amajuba 3 110 539.1 576 908 2 869 497.3
  • UMkhanyakude 687 98.7 696 042 369 53.0
  • Harry Gwala 1 390 270.8 513 317 1 099 214.1
  • Zululand 2 095 237.9 880 638 1 510 171.5
  • UMzinyathi 1 299 228.5 568 386 1 148 202.0
  • Unallocated 809 N/A N/A 789 N/A

Total 60 532 530.5 11 4111 32 38 667 338.9

*Active cases=Total cases-(recoveries + deaths)

Laboratory status in the province

Although KwaZulu-Natal is currently the fourth highest ranking province with the number of laboratory-confirmed cases, the province ranks as the third highest in terms of laboratory testing. The overall proportion of positive cases for the province was 13.3%, the seventh highest nationally.

Hospital admissions/isolations

Admissions ( positive patients )

Total admissions ICU High care

  • District Total Oxygenated Total Ventilated Oxygenated Total Oxygenated
  • EThekwini 245 86 26 24 2 5 0
  • UMgungundlovu 37 10 9 5 4 0 0
  • UMzinyathi 17 5 0 0 0 0 0
  • UGu 13 7 2 2 1 0 0
  • Amajuba 14 5 1 1 0 0 0
  • UThukela 9 4 0 0 0 0 0
  • King Cetshwayo 32 13 2 2 0 0 0
  • Zululand 6 0 0 0 0 0 0
  • ILembe 15 2 0 0 0 0 0
  • Harry Gwala 6 0 0 0 0 0 0
  • UMkhanyakude 14 1 0 0 0 0 0

Total 408 133 40 34 7 5 0

On 25 Jul 2020, the province had 1 822 patients admitted in both private (n=1 414, 78%) and public (n=408, 22%) hospitals. Of those admitted, 274 patients (15%) required intensive care services. Among those who required intensive care, 57% (n=156) were ventilated. Other patients (n=203) were admitted in high care units in both private (n=198) and public (n=25) facilities (Table 4 & 6).

Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital had 49% of patients admitted in intensive care units followed by Grey’s. Of those admitted in ICU, 81% were ventilated. More than half of the ventilated patients were admitted at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.

Hospital ICU patients Proportion (%) Ventilated patients Proportion (%)

  • Madadeni 2 4.9 1 2.9
  • Ngwelezana 2 4.9 2 5.9
  • Edendale 4 9.8 4 11.8
  • King Edward 4 9.8 4 11.8
  • Inkosi Albert Luthuli 16 39.0 16 47.1
  • RK Khan 2 4.9 1 2.9
  • Port Shepstone hospital 2 4.9 2 5.9
  • Prince Mshiyeni 2 4.9 2 5.9
  • Addington 2 4.9 1 2.9
  • Greys 5 12.2 1 2.9

Total 41 100.0 34 100.0

Persons under investigation

KwaZulu-Natal Province has an increase in number of persons under investigation (PUI) admitted in public facilities. Some of the admitted PUIs occupied ICU beds (2%, n=22). Of those admitted in ICU, 45% were ventilated.

Vacant beds

District Isolation beds vacant ICU beds vacant High care beds vacant PUI beds vacant PUI ICU beds vacant.

  • EThekwini 141 6 17 65 1
  • UMgungundlovu 51 5 4 71 2
  • UMzinyathi 46 0 0 37 0
  • UGu 19 0 0 38 1
  • Amajuba 20 3 2 51 1
  • UThukela 20 4 0 59 0
  • King Cetshwayo 88 4 14 62 2
  • Zululand 40 0 0 3 0
  • ILembe 45 0 8 43 4
  • Harry Gwala 47 0 0 20 0
  • UMkhanyakude 38 0 0 23 0

Total 555 22 45 472 11

Infected health care workers

A total of 2 167 health care workers (HCWs) have been infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. More than half of those infected are nurses. Of the total infected, a percentage (n=16) succumbed to the disease

Comorbidities (deceased)

The most common recorded comorbidities amongst the deceased include Hypertension (29%) and diabetes mellitus (28%). The proportion of HIV-infected 57 (6%) deceased patients also increases. The number of deceased with no recorded comorbidities increases with increase in number of deaths.

Community and facility screening and testing, Kwazulu-Natal, April-July 2020

A total of 9 432 258 cases were screened in the community and facilities from 8 April-24 Jul 2020. These covers 82% of the province’s total population.

Impact of enhanced level 3 by the president in KZN

Since the implementation of the latest lockdown restrictions, we have seen a significant reduction in all categories of community reported crimes when compared with the same period last year. For the period 12-25 July 2020, we have noted a 24.2%.decrease in all contact crimes, which includes murders, attempted murders, assaults, sexual offences (which includes rapes) and robberies. During the same period, we have also noted a 28.8% reduction in property crimes, which includes Burglaries (both business and residential), theft of motor vehicles, theft out of motor vehicles and stock theft.

Our total 17 community reported crimes decreased by 22.6% over this period. Coupled with the implementation of these lockdown regulations, increased police operations have resulted in a large number of arrests for various crimes including for smuggling illicit cigarettes. Criminals have come up with innovative ways of smuggling contraband, however; police officers working at a number of roadblocks across the province have arrested them and seized massive quantities of counterfeit cigarettes.

We hope that this is a wake call for those that may think that they can use this period to commit crime in KZN.

Happy 72nd birthday to His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini

And, last but not least, we wish to close off this address by wishing His Majesty the Kings, our treasured father and leader, Ubhejane Phum’ Esiqiwini, Isilo Samabandla Onke, a happy 72nd birthday, which he will celebrate tomorrow.

Our province is blessed and highly favoured to have a unique leader such as Isilo Samabandla, who is one of the world’s longest-reigning monarchs.

Through the years, His Majesty has consistently led us with wisdom and bold honesty. He has been there providing a beacon of hope during the dark days of apartheid.

He was there during our transition from apartheid to democracy. At the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, he never shied away from providing leadership, and speaking out openly against the disease when it was ravaging our communities – even when it affected his own family.

Even as we navigate our way out of these unchartered waters of COVID – 19, which have also affected the royal family, His Majesty is there, providing much-needed guidance - even when his family once again gets affected.

We wish him well. We pray that the Almighty continues to guide him, so that he can continue to be with us for many, many more years to come.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we wish to express our deep concern about the situation that has developed in uMsunduzi Municipality, where a smog from the burning dumpsite has polluted the entire area and is posing a health risk to the residents.

In this period when we are dealing with a crisis like Covid-19, we do not want our people to get sick and occupy hospital beds due avoidable causes of illness. This is a matter we are attending with a deep sense of urgency. We believe that the time has come for its permanent resolution.

We have assigned the Departments of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, under MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, as well as Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs under MEC Sipho Hlomuka, and the MEC Champion Mr Ravi Pillay, to work on this crisis with the municipality.

This work should include assessing the capacity of the municipality to cope with this function of waste management, and if needs be, explore options in law, including whether this function cannot be assumed by another layer of government and be handed over when it is resolved, as contemplated in Section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution.

There is an urgent need to find a longer-term solution to this challenge, using the resources available within the Municipality. The lives of our people are a priority and as government, we hear their voices. We will receive a report from these departments as a matter of priority.

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