Curve of active COVID-19 cases in South Africa is flattening

The number of active COVID-19 cases in South Africa has been flat for the past week, oscillating between 160,000 and 174,000 cases.

This means that the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in South Africa is being outpaced by the number of people who are recovering and dying from COVID-19.

While these figures are in-line analyses that South Africa has entered an epidemic peak — “the storm”, as President Ramaphosa puts it — it is important to note that the amount of testing has also declined slightly.

It is also important to note that the number of active cases is not declining everywhere in the country.

Provincial data shows that several of the Tshwane municipality’s seven subdistricts are showing an upward trend in active cases. The number of active cases in Johannesburg and Cape Town appears to be flat.

Reproduction number (Rt )

Mediahack runs a coronavirus dashboard which tracks the number of confirmed cases, deaths, and other data in South Africa. It also has an estimate of the current reproduction number of the epidemic in South Africa.

Current estimates show that the reproduction number has been trending below 1.0. In other words, not every person infected with the coronavirus is transmitting it to someone else.

This is an important threshold, as it indicates that the spread of the virus is being contained.

Detailed provincial Rt estimates are published at Reproduction.live.

It shows that the reproduction number is below 1.0 in the Eastern Cape, North West, and Gauteng. It is above 1.0 in the other six provinces. The Northern Cape’s Rt estimate is the highest at 1.22.

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Total confirmed vs active coronavirus cases

The following chart plots the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa along with the number of active cases. It also shows bars indicating the number of daily new cases, deaths, and recoveries.

The number of active cases is calculated by subtracting the number of recoveries and deaths from the total number of confirmed cases.

There are a few points to note regarding these data:

  • On 15 April, the Minister of Health of South Africa, Zweli Mkhize, revised the number of deaths for the period 9-13 April with updated data. This is reflected in the chart.
  • On 29-30 June there was a discrepancy between the reported number of deaths per day and the total deaths. These charts use the total deaths as the authoritative statistic.
  • On 2-3 July there were discrepancies between the total number of tests reported and the number of daily tests reported. These charts use the total number of tests as the authoritative statistic.
  • On 8 July the NICD revised the number of deaths in Limpopo on the previous day from 44 to 33. The 7 July deaths figure includes this change.
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Coronavirus testing

The following chart shows the number of coronavirus tests reported every day, with the number of new cases overlaid.

It indicates that the number of tests and new confirmed cases are still strongly correlated.

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Weekly averages

The following chart shows the average number of coronavirus tests conducted every week since 13 March, with the average number of daily confirmed cases overlaid. Week 0 starts when South Africa first entered its protracted lockdown on 27 March 2020.

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Now read: New data shows big spike in weekly deaths during COVID-19 lockdown

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Curve of active COVID-19 cases in South Africa is flattening