South Africa could be only days away from a national shutdown if the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase rapidly.
This is according to a report in The Star newspaper, which said the number of community infections can be much higher than the official numbers.
Yesterday Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that there are now 202 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in South Africa.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) also confirmed that the Free State province has reflected its first positive case of COVID-19.
The number of new infections in South Africa jumped from 34 on Thursday to 52 on Friday – a rapid increase which concerns stakeholders.
The official numbers may, however, be much lower than the true infection rate because of the current testing criteria.
Professor Alex van den Heever from WITS told The Star that people who did not fit very specific criteria have been turned away from being tested.
“I believe that is a serious error of judgement and we are essentially turning a blind eye to possible community-based infections,” said Van den Heever.
He highlighted that if South Africa starts to see 100 to 200 community-based infections per day we would “probably have to escalate the prevention strategy”.
This escalation, as was the case in China, Italy and France, includes a national lockdown with strict self-isolation rules.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura warns of lockdown
Yesterday Gauteng Premier David Makhura warned that a national lockdown may be where South Africa is headed unless the coronavirus spread is contained.
Gauteng is the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak and currently has 109 confirmed infections, with 33 of these infections reported in the last day.
“A lockdown may just be where we are all headed and the decision to do so has to be made by our national leadership,” said Makhura.
“We will raise it with the President. We are watching these numbers very closely and we are worried,” said Makhura.
He expressed absolute confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa and the leadership team to do the right thing.