Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in a statement announced that South Africa have breached one million cumulative cases of COVID-19, with a cumulative total of 1 004 413 cases reported.
This is an increase of 9502 new cases identified in the last 24 hours.
A cumulative 6 445 318 tests have been conducted with 29 494 tests completed since the last report.
Mkhize added that a further 214 COVID-19 related deaths were reported: Eastern Cape 123, Gauteng 17, KwaZulu Natal 13, Northern Cape 5 and Western Cape 56.
This brings the total to 26 735 deaths.
The recoveries currently stand at 844 874. This represents a recovery rate of 84,1%.
Meanwhile high-level meetings within the National Coronavirus Command Council were held earlier as concerns mount over the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections.
There are expectations that stricter restrictions will be announced in the coming days.
The surge in cases has been driven by more gatherings over the festive season, as well as a more transmissible variant of the virus that has been discovered in South Africa.
While it is not yet clear what restrictions will be modified at the meeting, a review could see:
- Lowering the limits on the number of people allowed at gatherings;
- Restrictions on movement;
- Closing of borders;
- Restrictions on the trade of alcohol.
The NCCC meeting follows an alert from health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday (23 December), that lockdown restrictions would have to be reviewed to combat the alarming surge seen in the second wave of the virus.
Mkhize said that the coronavirus has continued to spread exponentially and that the rate of spread is much faster than the first wave.
Hospitals, both private and public, are reporting that they are filling up quickly, with some already at capacity. Making matters worse, is that a lot of hospitals are operating on thinner staff due to the holiday period – who will now bear the brunt of the second wave.
Health experts and authorities have appealed to South Africans to keep practicing social distancing and following lockdown protocols.
Compiled by Lehlohonolo Lehana.