2,003 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, as deaths climb to 24

The number of confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus cases in South Africa has climbed to 2,003, health minister Zweli Mkhize has revealed.

This is an increase of 69 new cases from Thursday, while the minister said that six additional people have died as a result of the virus, taking the total number of deaths to 24.

The number of recoveries moved to 410 people.

A total of 73,028 tests have now been conducted, Mkhize said.

Gauteng still accounts for the highest number of cases with 801, followed by the Western Cape with 541, and KwaZulu-Natal with 412.

Except for two cases, the deceased are ages 63 upwards, the minister said. “We are also seeing people with co existing diseases succumb quicker,” he said.

Globally, coronavirus cases moved to 1,621,756, with 97,185 reported deaths, and 366,263 recoveries.

Spain, one of the worst affected country’s reported the fewest number of deaths since March 24, Bloomberg reported.

Italy, meanwhile, is seeing a downward trend in infections and may extend the lockdown to early May, it said.

In the UK, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London who advises the government, told BBC Radio 4 that there’s preliminary evidence the lockdown is working better than expected.

He added however, that it will be “several more weeks” before scientists can draw conclusions about the rate of decline in cases.

Lockdown extended

In an address to the nation on Thursday night (9 April), Ramaphosa said while it is still too early to gauge the real effect of the lockdown on the spread of the coronavirus in South Africa, initial data shows that it is definitely having an impact.

Notably, the rate of daily infections has slowed from 42% per day, to 4%. However, he warned that the country was still in early days of the outbreak, and harder times were still to come.

“After careful consideration of the available evidence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to extend the nationa-wide lockdown by a further two week beyond the initial 21 days,” the president said.

“This means that most of the existing measures will remain in force until the end of April.”

“If we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk an uncontrollable resurgence of the disease. We risk undoing the work done during the last few weeks,” he said.

Call to allow certain business sectors to reopen

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has called on the government to allow certain business sectors to reopen.

The business body, which has a membership comprising approximately 20,000 small, medium and large enterprises, commended president Ramaphosa on his leadership and management of the current crisis.

“We acknowledge the difficult but necessary decision, to further place South Africa in lock-down for the next two weeks, as there is still no certainty on the real effect of the current 21-day lock- down measures,” said Sacci chief executive officer, Alan Mukoki.

Sacci suggested “a staggered return to business, starting with industries who can demonstrate high levels of social distancing and health control, like the Fast Food Outlets (FFOs) industry”.

This industry, Mukoki said, already operates with high health and safety standards and can be done under the following Covid 19 pandemic health risk mitigation conditions:

1. All staff can be appropriately and consistently tested for health and Covid 19 infection.

2. All staff to be provided with the relevant personal protective equipment where applicable. For example Masks.

3. The outlets to maintain the highest of standards of hygiene.

4. The industry to make suitable arrangements for the transportation of their staff to and from work, and to ensure that the chosen mode of transport meets the highest of health standards.

5. To start prepared food orders can be distributed through drive-through and delivery channels, then followed by take away or call-and-collect under strict social distancing. No sit downs to be permitted.

The FFOs employ more than 150,000 people. Many businesses are likely to close down and there will be major job losses as a result, Mukoki said.

Read: South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown extended by 2 weeks

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2,003 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, as deaths climb to 24