South Africa hits over 10,000 daily Covid-19 cases as deaths rise

South Africa reported 10,017 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (11 May) – the first time the number exceed the 10,000 mark since January – while deaths also increased.

This increase represents a 25.3% positivity rate, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, said.

The majority of new cases are in Gauteng (39%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (21%). Western Cape accounted for 17%, and the Eastern Cape and Free State each accounted for 6% respectively, the NICD said.

The Department of Health meanwhile, reported 50 deaths, with 10 of those deaths occurring in the past 24 to 48 hours. This is up from 26 deaths previously, while the cumulative Covid-19 deaths in South Africa have reached 100,609 to date.

The proportion of positive new cases (25.3%) is higher than Tuesday’s figure of 23.0%, and the 7-day average is (25.1%), higher than Tuesday (24.7%).

There has been an increase of 164 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours, the DoH said.

Health minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, said earlier this week that while 70% of the population has come into contact with Covid-19 – and have some form of immunity – the best form of defence against the disease remains vaccination.

“Whilst it is the time that over 70% of the population have had contact with the virus, and therefore we have some natural immunity, the truth is this immunity wares with time and it cannot be boosted. So, while the virus is amongst us, the best defence is vaccination,” he said.

Phaahla said that as of Monday, the government has administered 35.182 million vaccine doses to just over 19.717 million adults – 49.5% of all adults.

Phaahla said that government derives no joy in implementing lockdown restrictions and that they are done to solely protect citizens. “We wish to assure all South Africans, that as a government we get no joy in inconveniencing you from time to time with restrictions.

“We say sorry where we have wronged you, but please be assured that all interventions were meant and are still meant for all of us to avoid the severe impact of Covid-19.

“We completely disagree with armchair critics who argue that we should drop all public health measures and just let the virus spread at will and only worry about whether hospitals are full or not,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that plans to produce Pfizer Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine in Cape Town may be scaled back because of waning demand for the shots.

About 100 million doses a year are slated to be packaged and filled at a plant controlled by the BioVac Institute, partly owned by the South African government, which would become the first Southern Hemisphere facility to use the messenger RNA technology underlying the Pfizer-BioNTech version.

Yet demand for Covid-19 vaccines has fallen globally as countries start to adapt to the pandemic – even in Africa where vaccination rates are lowest. Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd, the continent’s biggest drugmaker, said this month that it may close a line to make Johnson & Johnson’s dose in South Africa due to a lack of orders.

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South Africa hits over 10,000 daily Covid-19 cases as deaths rise