South Africa reached a major coronavirus milestone on Monday (8 June), reporting over 50,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.
Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, president Cyril Ramapahosa said that South Africa has been on a steep trajectory, with more than half of all cases since the start of the outbreak recorded over the last two weeks.
“Like many South Africans, I too have been worried as I watch these figures keep rising,” he said.
“While these numbers are broadly in line with what the various models had projected, there is a big difference between looking at a graph on a piece of paper and seeing real people becoming infected, some getting ill and some dying.”
Despite having the most comprehensive testing on the African continent, experts have also warned that South Africa’s testing plans are failing due to a global shortage of tests and a lack of capacity to process those that have been administered, Bloomberg reports.
Leading epidemiologists are now calling on the government to change its strategy of trying to find infections in communities and instead focus on testing health-care workers and people who’ve been hospitalised.
The current strategy “would have been the right one if we could have accelerated and expanded the testing,” said Marc Mendelson, head of the division of infectious diseases & HIV medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
“That just wasn’t possible, we lost that battle.”
Medical experts warn that Covid-19 cases are expected to spike in South Africa’s most populous provinces in the coming weeks, following record daily increases over the past week.
Speaking to the City Press, professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Shabir Madhi said that the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and the Western Cape should brace for a surge of new cases – particularly the Eastern Cape.
He said that the province will likely reach the Western Cape’s level of spread – in terms of a surge in cases – in two weeks’ time, while Gauteng will reach that level in four weeks.
The Western Cape remains the Covid-19 epicentre in South Africa, with 33,568 cases – accounting for two-thirds (66%) of the country’s total cases.
The province has also reported a total of 829 deaths – accounting for more than 76% of the country’s total deaths.
Regionally, the City of Cape Town is still the hardest hit by the outbreak, with the metro accounting for the majority of the cases in the province.
The below maps show the province’s coronavirus ‘hotspots’ as of 8 June.
As at 8 June 2020 Gauteng accounts for 6,258 or 12.3% % of all Covid-19 cases in the country.
While this is below the 6,341 cases reported in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng accounts for a large part of South Africa’s economic activity and there are concerns that a district-based lockdown could be particularly damaging.
Regionally, the City of Johannesburg accounts for the biggest portion of cases in the province, with the latest district data showing the metro accounting for 2,889 cases (48.5).
This is followed by the City of Ekurhuleni (1,206 cases), and the City of Tshwane (762 cases).
While the province still boasts a high rate of recovery, Gauteng premier David Makhura said that active cases in the province doubled last week and now surpass the number of recoveries.