Is SA seeing a drop or rise in Covid-19 numbers under level 1? Here is what authorities say

The World Health Organisation has raised a red flag about the recent increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in SA.
The World Health Organisation has raised a red flag about the recent increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in SA.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

While SA's Covid-19 recovery rate continues to see a steady increase and Health minister Zweli Mkhize has reassured the public that we are "now past the surge", the rising number of cases in the Free State and Gauteng have sparked concern.

WHO is worried

According to the SABC, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern after an increase in Covid-19 cases in SA over the past week.

The increase in the number of confirmed cases comes after the country entered level 1 of the lockdown last Monday. The increase also comes amid reports that the continent has experienced an overall decrease in infections.

To date, SA's Covid-19 death toll now sits at 16,586 with 671, 669 confirmed cases.

On Monday, the country recorded 188 deaths, of which 178 were confirmed in the Free State.

Globally, the number of people who have died from illnesses related to Covid-19 has passed one million, and there are 33,4m confirmed cases.

Active cases in Gauteng

TimesLIVE reported on Tuesday that acting health MEC Jacob Mamabolo expressed concern about the 6% increase in Gauteng's Covid-19 cases since lockdown regulations were dropped to level 1.

He said the rise in infections could be attributed to, among other factors, non-adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions by some members of the public.

“We all have to play our part to protect ourselves and those about us,” said Mamabolo. “There is still no vaccine. The only way we can contain the spread of Covid-19 is through wearing masks, keeping social distance and hand sanitisation, including adhering to the level 1 guidelines provided by government.”

No need to panic

Mkhize said there was no need to panic as the figures, though seemingly high, were collected over a few weeks.

He said there had been a delay in the release of Free State statistics.

“There has been a two-week delay in the reporting of Free State deaths as the province collated data from the districts and verified this against home affairs data.

“This is part of efforts to improve the quality of data by aligning information from facilities with home affairs statistics. Data from postmortem swabs also had to be collated and verified. This is in line with the recommendations of the Medical Research Council. The data is now up to date,” said Mkhize.

Past the surge

The ministerial advisory committee (MAC) said SA was considered to be past the Covid-19 surge.

“We have now confirmed, both with the national institute of communicable diseases (NICD) and WHO surge team reports, that we are now past the surge and our epidemiological curve has demonstrated a plateau for several weeks. Therefore, based on the conduct of the SA pandemic, we have re-evaluated our national response and identified new challenges that require new approaches.”

The MAC has disputed reports that it was disbanded by Mkhize, saying reports “could not be further from the truth”.

The committee has been expanded to include experts from different sectors. It will now consist of biomedical practitioners, clinical experts, specialists in ethics, the nursing profession, social scientists, researchers and community leaders.

It will still maintain a degree of continuity, with experts from the original clinical-biomedical MAC, including the incumbent chair Prof Salim Abdool-Karim, Prof Marc Mendelson, Prof Sthembiso Mkhize, Prof Rudo Mathivha and Prof Nombulelo Magula, among others.

SA drops to 10th spot

According to Worldometers, SA recently dropped two spots to 10 on the list of countries with the most Covid-19 infections.

Worldometers tracks the spread of the pandemic daily in 215 countries and territories. SA is now behind the US, Brazil, India, Russia. Peru, Columbia, Mexico, Spain, and Argentina.

According to the health ministry, the total number of tests done is 4,152,480.

The recovery rate now stands at about 90%, with 604,478 South Africans recovering. The country's recovery rate is close to the global average of 96%. 

Salute to health workers

At the weekend, Mkhize shone the light on health workers who have been at the forefront in the fights against the pandemic. He said while the numbers remained high, front-line health workers were “our heroes in this fight”. 

“They are the ones who have made sure SA survived. Because of them we can look back and say ‘SA, we have done it’.

“At this point it is still very far from being over. The numbers are still very high, but I think we are over the surge. At this point, we must look back and say thank you to our fellow South Africans” said Mkhize.



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