Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now a total of 350,879 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.
This is an increase of 13,285 cases from the 337,594 infections reported on Friday.
The minister announced 144 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 4,948 casualties, following a 24-hour high of 216 casualties on Wednesday.
He pointed to 182,230 recoveries to date.
A total of 2.42 million tests have been conducted, with 49,688 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) July 18, 2020
Since 31 December 2019 and as of 18 July 2020, approximately 14.2 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including approximately 600,000 deaths, and around 8.5 million recoveries.
Bloomberg reported that a coronavirus antibody test backed by the UK government was 98.6% accurate in secret human trials held last month, citing the Telegraph.
The fingerprick test can tell within 20 minutes if a person has been exposed to the virus.
It is developed by Oxford University together with UK diagnostics companies, a partnership set up by the government after a consignment of Chinese-made fingerprick tests proved largely useless, the newspaper said.
Scientists at King’s College London meanwhile, identified six different types of coronavirus using artificial intelligence software that revealed clusters of symptoms, the Telegraph said in a separate report.
These findings are likely to help doctors spot the highest-risk patients.
South Africa’s biggest liquor makers have offered to help get people to drink less after the government banned the sale of alcohol for a second time this year, citing health concerns, Bloomberg reported.
The surprise decision to reintroduce the prohibition hit the industry hard, according to the manufacturers’ spokesman Sibani Mngadi.
It lost almost 117,000 jobs during the first moratorium that began in March and ended June 1, he said.
The government says the latest ban is aimed at reducing alcohol-related hospital admissions as the surging number of coronavirus cases strains emergency wards.
The industry, which has introduced responsible-drinking programs in the past, now wants to work more closely with the state and civil society groups to identify and resolve problems.
“Based on research and credible current data,” the companies want to “jointly design interventions targeting these key areas with enhanced current programs and new measurable and evidence-based initiatives,” Mngadi said in a statement.
The first ban on alcohol sales was implemented on March 27, when the government introduced a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Department of Health released a report July 14 showing the restrictions that were in place in that period reduced the number of trauma cases at hospitals by as much as half.