The number of confirmed Covid-19 virus cases in South Africa has topped the 1500-mark, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced during a briefing at the Khayelitsha Hospital in Cape Town on Friday afternoon.
He noted that there were now 1 505 “positive cases” as of Friday, with 50 000 people having been tested in the country thus far.
The minister said that there have been 43 newly reported cases since the last update on Thursday afternoon. The number of deaths has risen from seven to nine, however, the two latest deaths are yet to be officially confirmed. There have also been 45 recoveries.
“We want to report sadly two more deaths from KwaZulu-Natal – an 80-year-old male and 81-year-old female… We would like to convey our condolences to the families and friends of these individuals. We would also like to thank the health workers who are working tirelessly every day,” he said.
Mkhize said that the two further deaths, believed to be linked to Covid-19, are yet to be confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are still awaiting confirmation on the two KZN deaths. I raised them because you have heard about them,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal was the first province in the country to report a case of the contagious disease almost a month ago on March 5. The number of cases, largely from people travelling into the country, increased significantly until late March.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring “state of disaster” measures on March 15, and later, on March 23 announcing at 21-day national lockdown effective from midnight on March 26, seems to have slowed the spread.
Over the past few days the percentage increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country has slowed into the single digits, despite a notable increase in the number of people being tested.
Mkhize has however warned that it is “still early days” and called for South Africans to take the lockdown seriously.
More than a million people around the world have now been reported to have contracted the virus, however, there have been around 200 000 recoveries. There have been more than 50 000 deaths globally related to Covid-19.
The virus first broke out in the Wuhan province of China in December. It escalated globally in March, which caused lockdowns in dozens of nations across the world and unprecedented stock market volatility.
There are now serious concerns about a global recession, which will exacerbate the recession in South Africa. The rand hit a new all-time low of R19 to the US dollar on Friday evening.