Photo: LifeCare

HEALTH MINISTER Dr Zweli Mkhize has revealed that the Eastern Cape has overtaken Gauteng with the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, sparking fears among nurses and community members.

Mkhize announced that the Eastern Cape now has 4 324 confirmed cases. This means that it has 48 more cases than Gauteng (4 276), the country’s economic hub and most populous province.

He noted that the Western Cape’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 23 583. The province, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in South Africa, accounts for almost two-thirds of the country’s 35 812 confirmed cases thus far (as of Tuesday).

Majority of these cases were from Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, OR Tambo and Chris Hani districts.

The number of healthcare workers who tested positive for COVID-19 were 170.

The provincial health department said the burden of SARS-Cov-2 among healthcare workers is highly under-estimated due to poor reporting.

“The total number of healthcare workers from public and private health sector who have tested positive for SARS-Cov-2 were 188. About 38% (n = 71) of these cases were reported from Nelson Mandela Bay and 34,0% (n = 63) were from Buffalo City Metros. There is a significant increase in health care workers being reported as tested positive for SARS-Cov-2 in both metros.”

The department said the Eastern Cape was facing a number of challenges, including high levels of fear among the community members and health professionals.

“There is a need to strengthen risk communication and community engagement to increase levels of knowledge about the disease, prevention measures and response after being infected or developed symptoms. The public health practitioners and communicators need to saturate the social media with the right information,” the department said in a statement.

(Compiled by Inside Politics staff)

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