Gauteng accounted for 10 806 of the 17 493 new Covid cases in South Africa reported by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Wednesday, as the third wave of the pandemic hits the home province of Johannesburg the hardest.
The country currently has more than 130 000 officially recorded “active” Covid cases, with Gauteng accounting for over half of the figure.
This surge in infections has fuelled calls for a harder lockdown in the country’s economic hub and most populous, but smallest province. Among those calling for a stricter lockdown include Netcare CEO Dr Richard Friedland, certain unions and political parties as well as health experts.
The NICD says the increase of 17 493 newly confirmed cases represents a “positivity rate” of 24.9%. This is more than double the positivity rate at the start of June, with Gauteng’s positivity rate topping the 30% mark.
“The sharp rise in the reported daily Covid-19 cases is cause for concern, especially in the Gauteng province where daily case numbers are exceeding those seen during the previous two waves,” says Dr Michelle Groome, head of the NICD’s public health surveillance and response unit.
More than 70 000 Covid tests were done, taking the total number tests undertaken in South Africa since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year to over 12.7 million.
Of this figure, 1 861 065 cases have been confirmed, with 59 258 deaths (including 166 newly reported deaths by the NICD on Wednesday) and over 1.67 million recoveries from the virus.
The confirmed death toll is likely to be higher, with delays being experienced in reporting. This is also reflected in the NICD mentioning a figure of 60 318 deaths under the “hospital admissions” section of its latest Covid-19 update.
According to the institute, there are nearly 10 500 Covid-19 patients currently admitted to private and public hospitals countrywide.
This includes 622 new hospital admissions reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Health Department’s coronavirus website notes that more than 2.3 million vaccines have been administered to South Africans as of midnight on Tuesday.
This has largely been for health workers and pensioners, while the vaccine rollout to teachers began on Wednesday.
According to a statement from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), more than 48 000 “educators and staff” were vaccinated on the first day of this vaccination rollout. This is based on a preliminary report from the Health Department.
The DBE noted that the vaccination figure, excludes the Western Cape and Limpopo provinces, which are expected to start rolling out teacher vaccinations on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
— Dep. Basic Education (@DBE_SA) June 23, 2021