SA’s Covid-19 active cases hit 85 000, with over 10 000 new infections
South Africa recorded the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in four-and-half months on Wednesday, with Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize reporting 10 008 confirmed new infections.
This has taken the number of active coronavirus cases countrywide to 85 275 and is a clear indication that the second wave surge is gaining momentum.
Mkhize warned on Wednesday of new daily cases now “growing exponentially”. The last time the country had over 10 000 new cases was on August 1, when 10 129 infections were recorded.
“Our [Covid-19] positivity rate is sitting at 21%. This far exceeds the ideal positivity rate of 10%,” the minister said in his daily statement.
Stricter Covid-19 restrictions under Level 1 came into effect this week, due to the peak December festive season, which sees many South Africans head to the coast or their hometowns.
“Today [on Wednesday] alone we’ve seen a significant increase in the daily numbers, with the Western Cape continuing to lead and now breaching the 3 000-mark for the first time this week. Seven other provinces reported increases, whilst [the] Eastern Cape reported a decrease in their new cases,” said Mkhize.
KwaZulu-Natal, SA’s nearest coastal hot spot to the economic hub and most populous province of Gauteng, reported a more than doubling of new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (2 743 compared with 1 152 the previous day).
Beaches in the province will now be closed, as part of upped restrictions, on public holidays during the festive season including the New Year’s long weekend (January 1 to 3).
KwaZulu-Natal has overtaken the Eastern Cape, with the second highest number of active Covid-19 cases countrywide, currently at 21 563 compared with 14 563. The Western Cape has the highest number of active cases (28 594), while Gauteng is home to the fourth highest (11 369).
In the Eastern Cape and going into the Garden Route area of the Western Cape, beaches have been closed until after New Year, due to these areas being labelled as Covid-19 hot spots.
“We continue to assess the entire country and where we identify risks, we will engage and make a determination if further containment measures or restrictions are required,” Mkhize stressed on Wednesday.
“We wish to commend all South Africans who heeded the government’s call and complied with regulations by not going to the beaches. We know that although this has taken away time for enjoyment from our people, it will certainly contribute to curbing the spread of the virus,” he said.
“Our beaches are known for over-crowding during this time and people tend to be carefree.
“We urge people who will be going to the beach… on days permitted, to ensure that it does not become a day of regret where people get infected and lives are lost. We plead with you to be responsible and protect yourself. Keep a physical distance from others, wear your mask and wash or sanitise your hands,” he added.
Mkhize also noted various legal challenges that have been brought against government regarding the recent updated regulations around Covid-19 restrictions.
“As [the] Health [Department], we stand by the recommendations made to the NCCC [National Covid-19 Command Council] which are well substantiated by evidence. We have every intention to oppose these applications as the [Health] Department, and government’s mandate to protect the lives and health of our people remains paramount,” he said.
“We dare not neglect this responsibility by omitting to take the necessary actions to protect the health care system from being overwhelmed and collapsing, as we’ve seen in other countries,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mkhize reported 166 further coronavirus-related deaths, which takes South Africa’s overall pandemic death toll to 23 827.
The country has ha 883 687 total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 774 585 of these being recoveries.
A cumulative total of 5 968 692 tests have been completed, with 48 118 new tests conducted since Health Department’s last report. – Moneyweb