Health minister Zweli Mkhize and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19 and are in quarantine at home, he announced in a statement on Sunday night.
Mkhize has been at the forefront of SA’s efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic, and is the fifth cabinet minister to test positive for Covid-19. Minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe, employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, and defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, have all previously announced that they have tested positive for the disease, and all four have made a full recovery.
“I wish to inform the public that this afternoon my wife, Dr May Mkhize, and I have tested positive for Covid-19. We decided to go test yesterday when I started showing mild symptoms. I was feeling abnormally exhausted and as the day progressed, I started losing appetite. My wife had a cough, was dizzy and extremely exhausted. Given her symptoms, the doctors advised that she must be admitted for observation and rehydration,” said the minister.
“Our close contacts in the past week have been a few of our family members and some of my health ministry team. We have informed them and advised them to immediately isolate in their homes and be tested,” he said, without saying how many people were affected.
The minister said he and his wife were optimistic that they would fully recover from the virus, which has swept around the globe since it emerged in China late 2019. More than 700,000 cases have been recorded in SA since the first case was confirmed in early March, and more than 18,400 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded by the health department.
“I wish to take this opportunity to urge all South Africans to continue adhering to health protocols. I want to beg that we do not neglect wearing our masks, social distancing and washing (and) sanitising our hands,” said Mkhize.
“As a country, we’ve made significant strides in our fight against this pandemic. Let us not dare regress. Whatever we do and wherever we go, we have to keep in mind that there remains a risk of a second wave. This virus only spreads through movement and contact of people. Therefore we must all play our part. We must protect ourselves and those we love,” he said.