Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize announced there are now 1,380 confirmed coronavirus cases, a daily increase of 27.
He said 44,202 people have been tested, adding that this is not enough considering the population of South Africa.
The number of infections is also much lower than anticipated. Mkhize previously said they expected between 4,000 and 5,000 cases by around 2 April.
This did not happen. The health minister ascribed the lower infection rate to a few factors, including:
- Closing South Africa’s borders which reduced the importation of COVID-19 infected travellers. He said many infections came from people who entered South Africa.
- Enforcing quarantining of inbound travellers, which prevented them spreading the virus in South Africa.
- Enforcing a lockdown and preventing mass gatherings where the virus can easily spread.
While these measures were effective, the minister said South Africa needs to remain alert to prevent a mass outbreak.
He explained that coronavirus testing in South Africa has to date been reactive and restrictive, which means we may not have the full picture of the problem.
He said internal COVID-19 transmissions have started, and this has the potential to spread silently among poor people who do not have the means to be tested.
Decline in number of tests
When the first daily decline in the number of new active COVID-19 cases was reported locally, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) explained it was cleaning patient data to ensure the information was verified and accurate.
“Data cleaning is required to conduct deduplication of contents and to correct details of patients in order to determine the most effective public health intervention,” the NICD said.
Another reason for the lower number of new confirmed coronavirus cases was the lower number of tests conducted.
This is set to change soon, as Ramaphosa announced this week that South Africa will roll out a screening, testing, tracing, and medical management programme on a huge scale.
“Around 10,000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns, and cities to screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms,” he said.