South Africa’s coronavirus epidemic is on a downward curve, with new infections, hospital admissions and the positivity rate all showing declines.
While new cases doubled every two days in March, that rate has now slowed to doubling in as many as 79 days, Salim Abdool Karim, the chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on the outbreak, said during a briefing Monday.
Hospital admissions in all of South Africa’s nine provinces have declined, and the testing positivity rate now averages about 13%, from a peak of 27% in the week ended July 23.
“We are over the plateau,” Karim said. “Is the worst over? That’s not entirely answered at this point. We have to remain vigilant because of the possibility of a second surge.”
While some countries in Europe used a combination of lockdowns and testing regimes to bring down the infection rate, numbers are rising again now that normal life has largely resumed. Earlier this month South Africa relaxed a number of restrictions including allowing bars to reopen for the first time since March.
The fall in the number of cases being detected means that the country will “switch to surveillance mode” and change its testing strategy to a district model while adding antibody testing to measure the full extent of the outbreak, Karim said.
South Africa recorded 609 773 cases and 13 059 deaths as of Sunday, giving it the largest number of infections in Africa and the fifth-largest total globally. More than 3.5 million people have been tested, out of a population of 59 million.
© 2020 Bloomberg