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Mkhize: WC's high COVID-19 cases due to outbreaks in retail stores, factories

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the Western Cape now had two-thirds of all COVID-19 cases in the country.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

MASERU - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the high rate of COVID-19 infections in the Western Cape could so far be attributed to essential services like food production and retail, which remained open during the first lockdown.

Mkhize was part of a panel of African health ministers hosted by the World Health Organisation on Thursday.

He said that Cape Town was one of 13 districts declared as hot spots.

Minister Mkhize said that the Western Cape now had two-thirds of all COVID-19 cases in the country.

He said that the virus spread quickly in residential areas because containment measures were not adhered to in essential services that were open.

"At the time of the lockdown there were a number of areas where it seems the infection spread pretty fast and these were cluster outbreaks found in retail shops, factories and food processing plants which were exempt from the lockdown, so people were expected to continue work."

The minister said that the focus now was on contact tracing and ensuring that all suspected cases were quarantined.

WATCH: New hotspots: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 28 May AM

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.