By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 12,056 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,368,105. This increase represents a 24.3% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (30%), followed by the Western Cape (21%). KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 14%; Mpumalanga accounted for 8%; Eastern Cape and North West each accounted for 7%; Limpopo accounted for 6%; Free State accounted for 4%; and the Northern Cape accounted for 3% of today’s new cases.
There has been an increase of 455 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.
NICD said a further 413 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 69,488 to date.
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Meanwhile acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi says that indications point to South Africa having passed the peak of a third Covid-19 wave.
Kubayi said in a media briefing on Friday morning (23 July), that while this is welcome news, there are still concerns that the recent unrest and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal could lead to a spike in infections.
It is hoped that a ramp-up of the country’s vaccination efforts will help address any future surges. Kubayi said South Africa is now vaccinating around 250,000 people daily, with plans to vaccinate 300,000 people each day in the next few weeks.
To bolster the vaccine rollout programme, the government will keep more public vaccination sites open over the weekend, with all public sites set to offer weekend vaccinations by August, the acting minister said.
The government is also expected to announce the next cohort of people who can register for the vaccine in the next week, with a focus on people aged 18 years and older.
Kubayi said that a National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting around the country’s current lockdown restrictions is scheduled for Sunday (25 July).
South Africa moved to an adjusted level 4 lockdown at the end of June following a spike in infections, particularly in Gauteng. This placed a ban on all gatherings and the sale of alcohol, imposed a stricter evening curfew, and led to the closure of all schools for an extended period beyond the mid-year break.