Parliament, Friday, 24 April 2020 – The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo had a discussion with Prof Salim Abdool Karim who is the Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 a few hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation.

Dr Dhlomo said: “Following our engagement with Prof Abdool Karim, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some of our points of discussion with Prof Abdool Karim formed part of the President’s speech.” President Ramaphosa said, amongst other things, “there are people who develop severe symptoms and require hospitalisation, these are usually older people, and they suffer from underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.”

Dr Dhlomo added: “It is encouraging to observe that our government fully acknowledges that this world pandemic requires medical experts for advice. Prof Abdool Karim, quoted a research study that was conducted in China recently of over 5000 people with Covid-19 infection, which has since been published on JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association). Prof Abdool Karim makes mention that this is the best available data that we have on Covid-19.”

Dr Dhlomo said the findings of the study reveal that people who are over 60 years of age that get infected with the coronavirus and are at a much higher risk of dying than the general population. In addition, according to Dr Dhlomo, Prof Abdool Karim said according to the study, the risk gets worse for those who are over 70 years of age. Therefore, Dr Dhlomo said each South African needs to stay at home and adopt this slogan, “I will obey the lockdown protocol probably not for me but for the sake of my parents and grand-parents.”

The study, according to Dr Dhlomo, shows that those who already have other medical conditions are at a much higher risk, given that they struggle a lot to fight against the coronavirus. “My plea to South Africans is that Covid-19 is invoking humanity, doing things for others, the sacrifice that we make as young healthy South Africans in lockdown is to protect our elderly from being wiped out and to support our sick citizens from getting worse, and end up dying,” said Dr Dhlomo.

“Do it for them, do it for our country, stay at home, be safe and obey the lockdown regulations,” emphasised Dr Dhlomo.


For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Ms Yoliswa Landu
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8203
Cell: 081 497 4694