Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has announced there are now 1,353 COVID-19 coronavirus cases in South Africa. This is an increase of 27 cases from yesterday.
This is the fourth day in a row where the number of new confirmed daily coronavirus cases declined – something which the minister did not expect.
Speaking at a press briefing, Mkhize said they have noticed a trend over the past week where the rate of infections is not as high as anticipated.
The minister said they anticipated the total number of confirmed cases to have reached between 4,000 and 5,000 by now.
The projections which Mkhize used are understandable. In many countries – including Italy, the United States and Spain – the number of new cases rapidly increased until they reached a plateau.
This did not happen in South Africa. The number of new cases peaked on 27 March, after which a rapid decline followed.
Mkhize said scaling up the number of tests across the country might increase the confirmed number of infections.
He added that the government remains concerned about the situation and the country may face a challenge as we move into winter.
The chart below shows the daily increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa in March.
Decline in number of tests
When the first daily decline was reported, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) explained it was actively cleaning COVID-19 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,” it said.
It said on 28 March the number of COVID-19 cases had increased by 112 – bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,187.
Another reason for the lower number of new confirmed coronavirus cases is the lower number of tests conducted.
This will change, however. President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa will enter a new phase in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic this week.
In the coming days, the government 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.
The chart below shows the number of COVID-19 tests which have been conducted in South Africa 0n a daily basis.