It was another day of mostly unwelcome Covid-19 records on Thursday, as South Africa reported its biggest daily jump (yet) in new virus-related cases and deaths.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country now stands at 40 792, up by 3 267 compared to the previous day. This is the first time that the daily rate of new infections reported is beyond both the 2 000 and 3 000 mark.
Mkhize also reported 56 new fatalities, 54 of these occurring in the hard-hit virus hotspot of the Western Cape. The province also accounted for the large majority (2 349) of new Covid-19 infections, taking the country’s overall tally beyond the 40 000-mark.
#COVID19 UPDATE: A total of 34 696 #COVID19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours (4 Jun). There are 3 267 new cases of #COVID19 Sadly, we report 56 new #COVID19 related deaths and send our condolences to the loved ones. Click link for a full report https://t.co/rZTh0DHpfw pic.twitter.com/6txxyJCCO6
— NICD (@nicd_sa) June 4, 2020
South Africa’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 848, with 651 of these having occurred in the Western Cape.
The Eastern Cape has the second highest number of confirmed cases (4 936) as well as deaths (95). KwaZulu-Natal has the third highest number of virus-linked fatalities (55), followed by Gauteng (33). However, KwaZulu-Natal has fewer confirmed cases (2 869), compared to Gauteng (4 845).
On a positive note, Mkhize said that of the 40 792 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, the number of recoveries to date stands at 21 311. This translates to a recovery rate of 52.24%.
Despite the shortage of testing kits countrywide and a growing logjam in the return of results, another highlight to come out of the health minister’s latest Covid-19 update is that a record 34 696 tests have been carried out since the last report.
Mkhize said this has taken the overall number of tests undertaken in South Africa to 820 675, as of Thursday. Of this number, almost 418 487 have been done by public sector laboratories.
Meanwhile, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, said on Thursday that the provincial government is currently negotiating to contract 300 private ICU or high care beds as part of its Covid-19 response. This comes after a tariff agreement was reached between the private healthcare sector and the Health Department.
“Critical care beds will however remain under pressure in the Western Cape which is why the province is taking steps to protect the most high-risk groups. It is vitally important that everyone play their part in slowing the spread of this virus, especially to protect those most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with co-morbidities,” he said.
Winde also appealed to citizens to drink alcohol responsibly. He noted that with government lifting the ban on alcohol in Level 3, the Western Cape’s emergency and trauma units have already seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related injuries and incidents.
“With our hospital system experiencing added volumes as a result of Covid-19, alcohol-related injuries – whether they be as a result of violence or traffic accidents – compete for care in our hospitals,” he said.