Cabinet held a special meeting on Tuesday (19 January) to discuss the progress report from the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Data presented at the meeting showed a downward trend of Covid-19 infections across much of the country.
“Though still early, Cabinet appreciated the downward trend of infections across the provinces, with the exception of the Free State and Northern Cape.
“Cabinet thanks all South Africans who continue to play their part by adhering to the health protocols adopted to minimise infections, such as wearing masks at all times when in public, maintaining social distancing, washing their hands at all times with water and soap or using an alcohol-based sanitizer and avoiding gatherings.”
This aligns with comments made by Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Monday, as he said that South Africa is beginning to see the benefits of its latest level 3 lockdown and its ability to manage a second surge in Covid-19 cases.
Mkhize said that the first ‘green shoots’ are appearing and that the country appears to be nearing an ‘inflection point’ and plateau in Covid-19 cases.
However, he cautioned against complacency and warned that a resurgence could happen at any point.
The Health minister said that he was specifically concerned about holidaymakers travelling back to Gauteng from coastal provinces which could cause a spike in cases.
“We are hoping that what we are seeing now is an indications that (cases) will start declining and we need to see next week whether there is any new impact from people coming back from the festive season.
“This is what we thought the real pressure could come from, but the adjusted level 3 restrictions have actually assisted a lot.”
He urged South Africans to continue the wearing of masks, practicing social distancing, and using sanitisers. “We believe that if we continue, we will actually see the plateauing of infections.”
Despite the positive signs, South Africa reported a big jump on 839 new Covid-19 related deaths on Tuesday, primarily as a result of backlogged data.
“The high number reported today is due to data reconciliation as part of the regular auditing process,” Mkhize said. “This includes the analysis of community data taking into account (amongst others): post mortem swabs, backlogged data and unconfirmed outcomes at facilities.”
On Tuesday (19 January), South Africa reported 9,780 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total reported to 1,356,716.
Deaths have reached 38,288 (a daily increase of 839), while recoveries have climbed to 1,144,857, leaving the country with a balance of 173,571 active cases.