Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced the Covid-19 death toll now sits at 24, with the number of cases breaking the 2 000 mark, now at 2 003.
He said Gauteng still leads the numbers with 801 cases followed by Western Cape with 541, KwaZulu-Natal has 412. There have been 410 recoveries.
Deaths have only happened in KZN, the Western Cape, Gauteng and Free State, Mkhize said.
The youngest death was 41, Mkhize said, but noted that the majority of deaths happened to people who have pre-existing ailments, and the real cause of death may have been that pre-existing condition.
In terms of recoveries per province, Gauteng: 157; Western Cape 152; KZN 15; Free State 61; Eastern Cape 3; Limpopo 13; Mpumalanga 6; and North West 3.
Showing graphs to members of the media, Mkhize said the evidence worldwide showed that lockdowns dramatically decrease the number of infections.
Mkhize shows a graph of South Africa’s infections, which shows the rate of infections going up – but that slows down since the lockdown was introduced. He says South Africa may be bucking the trend and the stats were an early indication that the lockdown has worked.
The initial outbreak were infections from overseas – via tourists or South Africans returning to the country – and when the lockdown came, “the importation of new cases” came to a halt. This was aided by enforced quarantines to people coming into the country.
“Anyone who doubted [the lockdown] should now be convinced,” Mkhize says.
He says, at the moment, the problem is internal transmissions, but the country has managed to “disrupt” these transmissions from a daily increase of about 40% before the lockdown to just 4% after.
Mkhize said 10 652 people have been traced via contact tracing – those people who have come into contact with people positive with Covid-19, and many have already been tracked down.
He said there are 13 488 “tracers” in the field to carry out this kind of job.
Meanwhile, Mkhize announced that coronavirus-hit St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban is closed.
None of the hospitals units are open, but some patients remain there because they can’t be housed elsewhere.
He said the government need to do a bed count at public hospitals and private hospitals, and those in public hospitals will be able to use private hospital beds if there is no space at public hospitals.
he Health Minister says social distancing was still proving a challenge for people. “This must be part of our new culture to keep the curve flat,” he says.
Mkhize recommends that people should be using masks, and said people can use cloth masks, like a folded handkerchief. He says people can make their own masks. He says the government would like to reserve medical-grade masks for health staff, because of shortages.
Mkhize says the KZN Department of Health must launch an investigation into St Augustine’s as to why so many staff members contracted Covid-19. It was reported that nearly 50 staffers have the virus.
He says the government need to do a bed count at public hospitals and private hospitals, and those in public hospitals will be able to use private hospital beds if there is no space at public hospitals.