Expect 26,000 daily COVID-19 cases by 30 June – Wits Professor

South Africa can expect around 3,000 new infections per day by 31 May and 26,000 new infections per day by 30 June.

This is the view of Professor Alex van den Heever, chair of social security at the Wits School of Governance.

Speaking to eNCA, he said there is insufficient screening and testing for COVID-19 in South Africa.

This means that the reported COVID-19 infections do not give an accurate reflection of what is actually happening in the country.

There is one exception, though: the Western Cape. He said the current increase in COVID-19 cases is mostly driven by the Western Cape.

He said this is mainly a result of good screening and testing rather than being the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Van den Heever wrote on News24 that the low increases reported in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and the Free State are unlikely.

Instead, he suggested it is “in all likelihood attributable to poorly implemented screening, testing, and tracing strategies”.

South Africa failed to flatten the curve

Van den Heever said South Africa has failed to flatten the curve through the extended lockdown. He added that the current trajectory is worrying.

“Future generalised lockdowns are also not feasible in South Africa and will fail to bring the reproduction rate down as was the case to date,” he said.

He said the decline in infections brought about by the lockdown can be attributed to the suppression in the affluent communities.

In comparison, he said, the lockdown has completely failed to stem COVID-19 transmissions in vulnerable, densely-populated urban communities.

“The lockdown cannot prevent further spread as many at-risk populations cannot socially distance,” he said.

Instead of a national lockdown, van den Heever suggested the country should aggressively ramp up screening, testing, and tracing.

He said South Africa should be conducting at least 20,000 tests per day to identify and isolate infected people.

While such a programme will cost billions, it is far more cost effective than the national lockdown – which costs the country billions each day.

“The controls on economic activity appear not to be rationally connected to any prevention strategy and are just harming the economy without preventing the spread,” he said.

Coronavirus cases in South Africa

The chart below shows the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in South Africa.

Professor Alex van den Heever interview

Now read: What to expect from level 3 lockdown rules

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Expect 26,000 daily COVID-19 cases by 30 June – Wits Professor