Government tracking a worrying increase in Covid-19 infections.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Health minister Joe Phaahla says his department is tracking the 'worrying' increase in Covid-19 cases in South Africa in recent days and will present its findings to the public once it has more information.
Presenting his department's annual report to parliament on Friday (22 April), Phaahla said that the government was still hopeful that these cases will not increase much higher, but stressed that the situation is actively being monitored.
He added that more time was needed to determine the exact trend in infections, but if cases continue to increase into the winter months, it will hopefully not be disruptive enough to divert the government from its current programmes.
South Africa's coronavirus test positivity rate climbed to the highest in more than three months this week, indicating that the number of undetected infections may be rising.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 4,631 new cases this evening, with 26,065 tests conducted in the previous 24 hours. This represents a 17.8% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (51%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (22%). Western Cape accounted for 13%; Eastern Cape accounted for 5% and Free State accounted for 3%. Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 2% respectively; Limpopo and Northern Cape each accounted for 1% of today’s new cases respectively.
While scientists have predicted the start of the next wave in late April or May, the government has said that vaccine coverage and the high rate of prior infections – as many as 80% of South Africans may already have had Covid-19 – should ease its impact.
NICD has also reported 10 fatalities, with 1 occurring during the last 24 – 48 hours. This puts the overall number of fatalities to 100,286.
The government is currently considering new regulations under the National Health Act which will allow it to control Covid-19 outbreaks and future pandemics without relying on a prolonged and unpopular national state of disaster.