Government has announced that the total number of coronavirus infections in South Africa has climbed to 1,380, up from 1,353 cases reported on Tuesday.
This represents an increase of 27 cases, while 44,202 people have been tested, said health minister, Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday evening.
The minister noted that there have been five confirmed deaths – unchanged from the previous report.
He said that hundreds of thousands of South Africans will need to be tested to get a full picture of Covid-19.
The Health Department has pledged to test around 30,000 people within the next 24 hours.
Mkhize downplayed his sporadic coughing throughout his address to the nation, by assuring that he has tested negative for Covid-19.
Iv has all sorts of asthma and sinus issues for a long time. I have tested for #COVID19 and I am negative. Air conditioners also aggravate the cough
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) April 1, 2020
The minster that there is no way to say whether South Africa’s 21-day lockdown will be sufficient in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, and government will review its effectiveness close to the end of the period.
This followed warnings from healthcare facilities and professionals that the lockdown may not last long enough to curb infections, and that a longer isolation period may be necessary.
Despite this, Mkhize said that the rate of infections was slower than previously anticipated, where government was expecting the tally to be in the multiple thousands already, and as high as 5,000 cases by the end of the week.
Mkhize attributed this to the shutting down of the country’s borders as well as other interventions introduced by the government. He added that the country would ramp up testing in the coming days and would begin using more sophisticated tracing methods.
“Whatever happens after the 21-days we must know that our behaviour must change completely,” he said.
“If we can stick to the guidelines that have been given then we can make an impact on the number of infections. It will not be the same as the other countries, but if we take the lessons from other countries we can make a difference. ”
Mkhize also warned that the country will likely see an increase in other viral infections -such as influenza – as the country moves towards the winter months. This means it is important for the country to get on top of the coronavirus now, he said.