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Tag: Covid-19 Update

Covid-19 Update: No B.1.617 variant in SA

Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize addressed the public’s concerns regarding the possible presence of the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, first detected in India, in the country. Mkhize said the variant has not been detected in South Africa yet and added that there are no direct flights into the country from India.

However, earlier on Monday, 3 May, it was revealed that a traveller entered the country from India and tested positive for COVID-19. The individual received treatment at a hospital in KwaZulu-Natal and it is not clear which variant of coronavirus they picked up on their travels.


The Health Minister addressed the variant concerns in his daily update on coronavirus statistics on Monday night. “We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19,” said Mkhize.

He added that the department is on high alert and ready to test arrivals who require further assessment.

Mkhize repeated what the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said earlier on Monday – the B.1.617 variant has not been detected in South Africa, yet. However, both Mkhize and the NICD, said surveillance is being intensified in order to quickly detect any new variants that emerge in the country.

“Meanwhile, we have also consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise us on the approach to management of travellers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern,” said Mkhize.

The Committee’s advice will be used to draft measures, which the government will announce in due course.


The public’s concern about the B.1.617 variant did not materialise out of thin air. On Monday, Netcare’s Dr Caroline Maslo – the senior clinical advisor and head of infection at the hospital group – confirmed that a patient who recently travelled from India was treated for COVID-19 at a facility in KwaZulu-Natal.

However, it is not clear whether the traveller picked up a variant of concern that was first detected elsewhere. Both, the Department of Health and the NICD maintain that the B.1.617 variant has not been detected in South Africa yet.


As of Monday, 3 May, South Africa’s total cumulative recoveries stand at 1 508 558, which represents a recovery rate of 95%. Unfortunately, 35 more COVID-19-related deaths were recorded in the Eastern Cape (2), Free State (6), Gauteng (7), KwaZulu-Natal (16), Mpumalanga (1) and the Western Cape (1).

In total, 54 452 people have died of the virus since the onset of the pandemic.

“The number of Health Care Workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol to date is 329 098,” said Mkhize.

Zweli Mkhize gives alcohol ban update

As South Africa starts to see the smallest of lights at the end of an extremely long tunnel, Zweli Mkhize has stated that there will be no rush to start lifting restrictions at the slightest hint of progress: Daily COVID-19 cases fell to a one-month low on Monday, prompting hopes that the alcohol ban could soon be relaxed.

The State of Disaster laws are set to be renewed on 15 February – and this is likely to be the earliest date on which the alcohol ban could be repealed. However, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stated last week that any changes to liquor regulations can only take place ‘once deaths and hospitalisations are dramatically reduced’.

Adjusted restrictions won’t be happening on the health minister’s watch any time soon, though. Mkhize visited various healthcare centres in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, to assess the situation. There are more active cases in KZN than anywhere else in SA, and interventions have been put into place to ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with demand.

It was on these rounds that Zweli Mkhize delivered a sobering update for the drinkers of South Africa. He stated that the alcohol ban has brought ‘huge relief’ to trauma wards and over-populated medical facilities across the nation, and revealed he’s hopeful this period of prohibition will continue ‘for a while’.

“At this point, we are able to focus on the one crisis that the whole country is facing. There is actually a huge relief that has come from the suspension of the sale of alcohol because most of those trauma cases are linked to irresponsible consumption of alcohol, irresponsible behaviour based on the consumption of alcohol.”

“Hopefully, that’s going to continue for a while”

Then we need to get this space to be able to manage people who are under the pressure of COVID-19, so we will then continue to monitor the situation and see when there would be the need to change the restrictions that have been put in place.”

Zweli Mkhize

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Tame Communications (known as tameTIMES) was established in 1997. This long-established popular community title includes the key shopping centres:  Alberton City, Mall...

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