President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed that there are now 1,934 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa.
This is an increase of 89 COVID-19 cases over the last day, in line with yesterday’s increase of 96 cases.
As part of the latest coronavirus stats, Ramaphosa has also announced an extension of the national lockdown until the end of April.
He said this was necessary to contain the spread of the virus and avoid a massive loss of life in South Africa.
He added that there will be a big increase in testing over the next few weeks to identify and isolate infected people. This community screening will happen across South Africa.
Most of the initial lockdown measures will remain in place until the end of April. Ramaphosa added that risk-adjusted measures will be assessed to ensure certain businesses can return to operation.
Strange case number trends
What stands out about the number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa is that they do not follow the same trend as those in other countries.
In countries like the United States, Spain, and Italy, for example, there is a consistent increase in cases until they reach a plateau.
None of these countries showed a rapid increase in cases and then a sudden decline – as observed in South Africa.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said last week they expected between 4,000 and 5,000 cases by around 2 April. This makes sense if South Africa followed the same infection pattern as other countries.
The number of cases has remained under control, however, with new cases reported each day falling sharply after the implementation of the lockdown.
Mkhize put the lower-than-expected infection rate down to closing South Africa’s borders quickly, quarantining of inbound travellers, enforcing a lockdown, and preventing mass gatherings.
While the measures which the government implemented to fight the virus outbreak are most likely 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.