2 March 2020
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize rejects the DA’s sensational statement alleging that members of parliament were blocked from inspecting Coronavirus screening at OR Tambo.
In the past week the Minister has been made aware that various members of parliament, including the DA, have requested to conduct an inspection of the screening facilities at OR Tambo International airport. On receiving these requests, he immediately contacted the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo to assist him in coordinating a group visit for all MPs who are interested. This is meant to avoid piecemeal inspections that may disrupt the day to day operations. Especially taking to account that Port Health staff is not only processing large numbers of inbound travelers but are now required to be more vigilant in conducting inspections inside aircrafts on arrival, analyse the questionnaires filled by every passenger to assess the risk and conduct temperature screening of each and every passenger on board even before they disembark.
On top of that, If the Port Health staff identifies a passenger who in their view requires further examination, they are now obliged to identify all other passengers that are seated in close proximity of that particular individual to ensure contact tracing. It must therefore be appreciated that this has put an added burden to the staff on the ground. It is important for all South African, especially public representatives to be mindful of the abnormal circumstances that are imposed by this situation.
The DA’s statement appears to be opportunistic, meant to create havoc and confusion during a sensitive period when all South Africans are suppose to be working hand in hand to ensure that we improve our preparedness and mitigate any infection risk for Coronavirus each day.
The DA must decide whether it will use its energies to grandstand and score cheap political points or work together with the Department of Health and government as whole to ensure that South Africa is safe.
It is selfish for the DA to play destructive opposing role to any initiative by government, even on such sensitive matters, at the expense of our people.
The Department reiterates it’s commitment to transparency by making relevant information on the developments and preparations publicly available as it has done since the outbreak of the corona virus
The Minister of Health also welcomes any inputs, constructive criticism and suggestions to improve the state of preparedness but take exception to dramatic statements made seemingly with the sole intention of politicizing a matter of serious public health concern.
The DA and any other members of parliament will be advised of the date of the visit that is being arranged through the Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee and the Health Department will support MPs to fulfill their oversight role.
For Further Queries:
Dr Lwazi Manzi
MLO Ministry of Health