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Mkhize must lay cards on table regarding possible level Three lockdown in Eastern Cape

The Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, must play open cards with the people of the Eastern Cape as well as the rest of the country about the possibility of a Level Three lockdown for the province.

The FF Plus was dismayed to find out via the media yesterday that the Minister had already discussed the matter with businesspeople, politicians and others in the province and that they had reportedly agreed on a possible Level Three lockdown.

It is disappointing to find out about this in this way, through the media reporting on the statements of a leading figure in the ANC, as the Minister said on Friday after the relevant meeting that had taken place in Port Elizabeth that no decisions on the matter have been reached.

Minister Mkhize is playing a dangerous game and it is because the public healthcare system in the province is still not adequately prepared and ready to handle the pandemic effectively even though it had ample time to do so since the Level Five lockdown which was implemented earlier this year.

When the fist problems arose in the Eastern Cape at the beginning of the year – ranging from a shortage of healthcare workers, personal protective equipment (PPE), clinics, beds, hospitals and medicine to the squandering of money on procuring motorcycle ambulances and patients assaulting one another to get oxygen – the Minister and the province's MEC for Health tabled an intervention plan to the Portfolio Committee on Health in Parliament.

It is, however, clear that this plan was never implemented and now that there is a rise in infections, Minister Mkhize wants to put the Eastern Cape back under Level Three lockdown. This is all because neither the provincial Department nor the national Department or the ministry of Health did anything to address and solve the problem earlier.

The FF Plus warned the Minister in early October that moving back to a stricter lockdown is no longer an option. Even medical professionals of the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised world leaders in October not to impose restrictions again seeing as these measures alone will not solve the problem and such drastic actions are destroying countries and people’s lives.

The FF Plus also warned Mkhize that South Africans no longer trust the government and that stricter restrictions could spark general disorder and revolt in communities across the country.

The FF Plus is, thus, imploring Minister Mkhize not to follow this route and instead to focus on improving the healthcare system by appointing more doctors and nurses, ensuring that there is enough medicine and equipment available to protect healthcare workers and strengthening the hands of those who are in the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic.

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