With Gauteng’s overall tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases set to top the 40 000 mark and more than 3000 new infections now being reported daily, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that “Gauteng is expected to emerge as the country’s Covid-19 epicentre within the coming days”.
Over the past 10 days South Africa’s economic hub and most populous province has reported a surge in new coronavirus infections, which has seen it overtake the Western Cape in terms of “active” Covid-19 cases.
In his daily virus update on Monday, Mkhize revealed that Gauteng has 39 841 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Of this total, 30 103 are currently active cases while there are 9 738 recoveries in the province.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) June 29, 2020
The Western Cape’s confirmed cases stands at 61 375. However, with the large majority (42 636) of cases now regarded as recoveries, the number of active Covid-19 cases in the province stands at 18 739. The Western Cape, however, is still home to the highest number of virus-related deaths, at 1 807 of South Africa’s overall 2 529 fatalities as of Monday.
Mkhize said while the cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases countrywide is 144 264, around 48.9% or 70 614 of these were now recoveries. He did not go into detail on how many of the currently active cases represented patients in hospital or in ICU beds.
On Gauteng’s surge, he reiterated in a tweeted post that Covid-19 models predict the province will “within the coming days emerge with the highest number of positive cases.”
He said factors contributing to this trend include the inward migration of people; the large population size in Gauteng’s metro cities; and, increasing congregation of people (due to eased lockdown measures).
Gauteng has the third highest number of Covid-19 deaths (180), while the Eastern Cape has the second highest number of fatalities, at 397. Virus-related deaths in KwaZulu-Natal, which saw the first reported cases in the country back in March, has slowed and currently stands at 115.
Mkhize on Sunday warned that the country is “seeing a rapid rise in the cumulative number of positive Covid-19 cases”, which is an indication that it is “approaching a surge during the latter winter months of July and August”.
He added: “It is anticipated that while every province will unfortunately witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise – beginning with Gauteng and Western Cape and followed by Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.”
While KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa’s second largest economic hub (in terms of GDP contribution) as well as population size, the province is still behind the Eastern Cape as a Covid-19 hotspot.
The Eastern Cape now has more than double the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases (26 195), compared to KwaZulu-Natal’s tally of 9041 as of Monday evening. There are 12 824 reported recoveries from the virus in the Eastern Cape, while in KwaZulu-Natal this stands at 3602.
“When the national lockdown was eased to level three, there was a large inward movement of people as economic activities resumed. The surge that has been witnessed in the past two weeks has developed due to seeding of infections carried in by members of the community as they moved back into the workplace,” Mkhize said at the weekend.
“It was therefore inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks as infections spilled over from communities into places of congregation such as mines, factories, taxis and busses… We have indeed witnessed this in the mining sector in the North West where cluster outbreaks in the mines have driven a sudden increase in the numbers in this province,” he added.