The Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has expressed worry over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases amongst teenagers.

Mkhize was speaking during a virtual address on Wednesday, 9 December 2020, giving an update on the country’s progress in countering the spread of COVID-19 as well as the latest figures.

“In the last two days the age distribution of new cases showed a different pattern from the norm: the peak age in this period is in the 15-19 age group,” he said.

Mkhize said this was likely due to a large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol while flagrantly disregarding the necessary health and safety measures including wearing masks, using sanitizer and practicing social distancing.

“This inevitably leads to super spreader events which spill over into the rest of the country as this age group is highly mobile and the majority of the carriers are asymptomatic. If this trajectory continues our health care system will be overwhelmed by the numbers. Hence part of the recommendations that are being tabled by provinces themselves is that large gatherings and parties must be urgently curtailed,”

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize

COVID-19 in SA: Teens disregarding health measures, says Mkhize

Mkhize also announced that South Africa was experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections and that it had surpassed 6 000 cases in a 24-hour cycle, which puts the total caseload since the first case was picked up in March, to 828 592.

The latest announcement from the minister comes just days after he declared recently-held matric rage parties as superspreader events for the coronavirus.

Mkhize said the parties, hosted annually to celebrate the end of high school, had already been held in Ballito, Plettenberg Bay, Johannesburg and Jeffery’s Bay between November and early December. Most of the attendees are also teens, whom the minister said were not behaving as they should thus, endangering their lives.

“It is clear that in these entertainment activities, most participants are not constantly conscious of good behaviour. This means that our youth is not only exposing themselves to the risk of contracting COVID-19, but they also put the lives of their parents, grandparents and other loved ones living with co-morbidities at risk,” he said.

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