KwaZulu-Natal now SA’s Covid-19 epicentre with most active cases

But, overall new infections in the country fall to lowest level since late June.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's home province of KwaZulu-Natal has overtaken Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape in terms of 'active' Covid-19 cases. Image: GCIS

KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa’s second largest economic hub and the second most populous province after Gauteng, has effectively become the country’s Covid-19 epicentre in terms of active cases.

The province, which reported the nation’s first confirmed Covid-19 case back on March 5, now has more active Covid-19 cases than Gauteng, according to the latest statistics on the pandemic released by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday night.

While Gauteng is still home to the most confirmed cases (194 093 as at 11 August), more than 75% (150 082) of these cases have been reported as recoveries. This means the province has 41 358 active cases, while KwaZulu-Natal has 42 286 active cases.

KwaZulu-Natal surpassed the 100 000 mark in terms of confirmed Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, with 1 108 newly reported infections. This is more than double the number of newly reported infections in Gauteng (532).

KwaZulu-Natal has been reporting the highest rate of new infections in the country since pretty much the start of August (on two occasions during the month, Gauteng reported more cases). However, with Gauteng still expecting its pandemic peak, the two provinces are likely to jostle for the unenviable top hotspot position.

Read: South Africa Covid-19 deaths higher than reported, experts say

Mkhize’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal has now also overtaken the Western Cape in terms of total Covid-19 confirmed cases. The Health Minister warned last week during a tour of KwaZulu-Natal that the province is heading for its peak within the next few weeks.

The Western Cape, which seems to have passed its pandemic peak, has 100 316 confirmed cases, however, 87 998 are recoveries. This means that the Western Cape not only has fewer active cases (8 864) of the coronavirus than KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng currently, but also less than the Free State (15 288) and North West (9 552).

While the spike in KwaZulu-Natal is a worry for Mkhize, the overall decline in new Covid-19 infections in South Africa is seen as a positive. On Tuesday he reported 2 511 new cases, the lowest daily increase since late June.

This brings the nationwide tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases to 566 109. “The number of recoveries currently stands at 426 125 which translates to a recovery rate of 75%,” said Mkhize.

South Africa has the fifth highest number of reported cases globally after the US, Brazil, India and Russia. As of Tuesday, the global tally of cases reached almost 20.5 million.

Mkhize reported 130 further virus-related fatalities on Tuesday, taking South Africa’s death toll to 10 751. The global death toll stands at more than 744 000.

More than 3.27 million Covid-19 tests have been carried out in the country.

With the slowdown in infections and the comparatively low Covid-19 mortality rate in South Africa, there is growing expectation that government will announce further relaxations to current Level 3 restrictions this month. The National Covid-19 Command Council is meeting this week to discuss the issue.

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