16,433 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths rise to 286

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 16,433 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 918 cases from the 15,515 cases reported on Sunday, when the country recorded its highest daily total of 1,160 new infections.

Dr Mkhize said on Monday (18 May), that the total number of deaths has now reached 286 – an increase of 22 deaths from 264 reported before.

The minister said that 475,071  tests have been conducted to date – 14,198 over the past 24-hours, while he highlighted a total of  7,298 recoveries to date, from 7,006 before.

Coronavirus cases globally, climbed above 4.8 million infections, with deaths above 317,000, and nearly 1.9 million recoveries.

China meanwhile, will make its coronavirus vaccine a global public good once one is available, president Xi Jinping told the World Health Organisation’s governing body.

Xi’s comments come amid growing concern that countries will put national interests first in the quest for a vaccine.

The WHO is pushing a proposal that aims to ensure broad access to Covid-19 treatments and vaccines while offering an appropriate reward to creators, Bloomberg reported.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, will make as many as 30 million doses of vaccine available to the UK by September and deliver 100 million this year. The UK will get first access to the vaccine should it be successful, Bloomberg said.

The vaccine, being developed at the University of Oxford, will get £65.5 million ($79 million) of funding, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said.

The inoculation is being studied in humans and could reach late-stage trials by mid-year.

Lockdown based on scientific data

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the government is relying on scientific, economic and empirical data to make decisions and formulate regulations around its coronavirus response.

In his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa said: “We want all South Africans to be part of this national effort. The voices of ordinary citizens must continue to be heard at a time as critical as this.”

The president’s letter appeared to defend the government’s approach to lockdown, which has come under criticism for being particularly strict.

Some reports claim that the government’s approach is not informed by science.

Ramaphosa said that he will not stand in the way of any individuals or groups who challenge the country’s lockdown rules in court.

He said that since the start of the crisis, a number of people have exercised their right to approach the courts.

Ramaphosa added that the lockdown regulations were challenged in the very first week by a private citizen from Mpumalanga who wanted an exemption from the travel prohibition to attend a funeral.

“In the seven weeks that have followed, there have been legal challenges from a number of individuals, religious bodies, political parties, NGOs and from business organisations against one measure or more of the lockdown provisions they were unhappy with.

“Some have succeeded in their legal challenges and some have not. Some had approached the courts on the basis of the urgency of their cases had their urgency arguments dismissed and others have found other avenues for the relief they sought.”

Ramaphosa said that a number of groups have also withdrawn their applications following engagement with government.

“While we would prefer to avoid the need for any legal action against government, we should accept that citizens who are unhappy with whatever action that government has decided on implementing have a right to approach our courts for any form of relief they seek.

“This is a normal tenet of a constitutional democracy and a perfectly acceptable practice in a country founded on the rule of law.”

Ramaphosa said that there are a number of checks and balances in place to ensure that every aspect of governance is able to withstand constitutional scrutiny.

“Where we are found wanting, we will be held to account by our courts and, above all, by our citizens.

“Besides our courts, our Chapter 9 institutions exist to advance the rights of citizens, as do the bodies tasked with oversight over the law enforcement agencies.”

Read: Here are Cape Town’s coronavirus hotspots as infections surge in South Africa’s Covid-19 epicentre

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16,433 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths rise to 286