215,855 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 3,502

 ·7 Jul 2020

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 215,855 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 10,134 cases from the 205,721 cases reported on Monday – with a new 24-hour high for the country of 10,853 cases recorded over the weekend.

The minister announced a new high of 192 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 3,502 casualties and 102,299 recoveries to date.

A total of 1.9 million tests have been conducted, with 43,421 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.

Globally since 31 December 2019 and as of 7 July 2020, around 11.8 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, with approximately 541,000 deaths and 6.77 million recoveries.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc is collaborating on an experimental Covid-19 vaccine with Medicago, a company partly owned by Philip Morris International Inc, Bloomberg reported.

Human testing is due to start in mid-July, and the companies aim to make the vaccine available in the first half of 2021 if successful.

The UK pharmaceutical giant is contributing its technology to multiple partnerships rather than developing its own vaccine candidate.

Additional restrictions

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize says that South Africa could introduce additional restrictions in some areas, as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

Speaking in an interview with Cape Talk on Tuesday (7 July), Mkhize said that this should include the promotion of behavioural change in communities to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“It is possible that we might move to some kind of restrictions. No decisions have been taken yet but, certainly we are concerned about the rising numbers.

“As we speak right now, Gauteng is the one area where the number has shot up quite high. This is concerning, although we did expect them to reach these levels.”

Mkhize said that during the stricter lockdown levels, there was a high-level of compliance across the country. However, this has fallen away somewhat as the country has moved to lower levels.

He cautioned that government cannot afford to allow for non-compliance – including people not wearing masks or washing their hands – as there are ‘no other options’.

Mkhize said that the country has not yet hit capacity for ICU patients, but he said that the recent surge in cases could be problematic.

“We do understand the number of patients coming into Gauteng is increasing pretty fast, but we have not got to a point where we have run out of beds.

“What we think has been part of the challenge is that the numbers are increasing after and so we are looking at tightening the management of the distribution of hospital beds so that if there is pressure in one area they can take a person to the nearest (available) hospital.”

He said that the government was also looking at specialised field hospitals and the introduction of new staff to make up for the increased pressure on the healthcare sector.

Read: South Africa has hit 200,000 reported coronavirus cases – these are the hotspot areas in Joburg and Cape Town

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