Tuesday, 19 January 2021 23:28

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update that the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa has risen by 9 780 to 1 356 716.

The cumulative total of tests conducted to date is 7 700 019 with 46 648 new tests conducted since the last report, said Mkhize.

Mkhize also said further 839 deaths were reported: Eastern Cape 102 , Free State 20, Gauteng 48, KwaZulu Natal 263, Limpopo 238, Mpumalanga 11, North West 25, Northern Cape 2 and Western Cape 130 which brings the total to 38 288 deaths.

The high number reported today is due to data reconciliation as part of the regular auditing process- this includes the analysis of community data taking into account (amongst others): postmortem swabs, backlogged data and unconfirmed outcomes at facilities, said the minister.

Mkhize added that the recoveries now stand at 1 144 857 , representing a recovery rate of 84%.

Meanwhile Mkhize said there had been a slight easing of Covid-19 numbers at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

Mkhize visited the hospital on Tuesday and is also visiting the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.

Earlier this month, the Steve Biko Academic Hospital was thrust into the spotlight after pictures emerged showing patients on stretchers in a parking lot with water running under them.

The observation area where patients are brought was emptier than previously seen, with hospital staff paying attention to those in tents on the grounds.

Mkhize said this was how it should be.

"The issue that we want to expedite is the use of antigen rapid test to ensure that we can shorten the waiting times for patients who are here. It’s very important to work quickly so people can be moved away from the observation ward."

But he said government was not overwhelmed.

"An arrangement is now in place that when hospitals are filling up, patients can be moved to Nasrec because there’s still enough space there."

Mkhize said the ultimate answer to ease the burden on hospitals such as this one was for the vaccine to be made available in South Africa.

Compiled by Lehlohonolo Lehana.