By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize says the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases for South Africa is 1 541 563.
This is an increase of 1554 new cases identified and the cumulative total of tests conducted is 9 722 821 with 32 002 tests completed since the last report.
Mkhize said a further 163 more COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 0 , Free State 9, Gauteng 24, Kwa-Zulu Natal 5, Limpopo 71, Mpumalanga 0, North West 37, Northern Cape 16 and Western Cape 1 which brings the total to 52 535 deaths.
The minister said the cumulative recoveries today stand at 1 467 254, representing a recovery rate of 95%.
The number of health care workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol as at 18.30 today is 220 129.
Mkhize added that a decision to move South Africa to a higher lockdown level is currently being discussed by government officials.
He said that the decisions will be based on recommendations from epidemiological experts as well as business and members of civil sector and that there have been recommendations to introduce a stricter lockdown as part of a consultation process based on scientific evidence.
However, he noted that the government has also received a request from the religious sector to allow for increased church attendance over the Easter weekend.
"This is a sensitive period where there is the vulnerability and the chance of the risk that we could have a super spreading event, with all the festivities and activities that go with the Easter long weekend.
"So the advisory was for a temporary increase in restrictions over this period of time," he said.
He added that the government has to take into account that we must discourage super-spreader events over the Easter weekend, we need to avoid inter-provincial movement which could lead to spreading the virus.
However, he noted that South Africans have largely learnt their lessons over the past year on issues such as mask-wearing and social distancing, indicating that government may not have to be overly strict with a lockdown.