The South African Ministry of Health has announced the dismantling of the group of scientists who advised the government on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic after several of its members publicly criticized the response to the virus in the hardest-hit country in Africa.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize sent letters to several committee members thanking them for their work. “Your contribution has led to the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa and to a reduction in mortality,” reads the letter collected by the News24 portal.
Those who have already received the letter include personalities who have criticized the authorities’ response to the outbreak, despite the fact that the 50 members of the committee formed in April are believed to be affected by the measure. Mkhize has assured that new advisors will take up their posts “soon”.
A ministerial spokesman has downplayed the changes, assuring that it is necessary to “reconfigure” the group to “adapt it to the new pattern of the pandemic”. However, one of the critical scholars, Francois Venter, has denounced that “everything has been done without notice or explanation”.
South Africa managed to contain infections last month, despite having recorded more than 668,000 positive and more than 16,300 deaths since the pandemic began, unprecedented numbers across the continent.