Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has told the National Assembly the anticipated COVID-19 storm has arrived in South Africa with a surge in confirmed cases.
Last night, Mkhize announced that there were now 224,665 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa – a daily increase of 8,810.
He also announced 98 new COVID-19 related deaths, which brings the total deaths from the pandemic to 3,600.
Mkhize told Parliament his department has started implementing a “surge strategy” in anticipation of the peak.
“This will ensure that the department increases capacity for COVID-19, while at the same time continuing to deliver other health services to the health care users,” said Mkhize.
The department repurposed a total of 27,467 beds for COVID-19, which has increased to 40,309 beds as the provinces started to experience a sudden increase in the number of cases.
He urged South Africans to take the necessary precautions to ensure that they protect themselves and the lives of those around them.
Mkhize’s words were echoed by Professor Shabir Mahdi, who is leading South Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Mahdi said the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases in Gauteng is “nothing less than irresponsible behaviour by the majority of citizens”.
“People are simply not taking this virus seriously until someone close to them actually passes away or ends up in hospital.”
For the country to lower the rate of infection and bring about some level of control requires everyone to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions listed below:
- Maintaining physical distancing.
- Wearing of face masks in public.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
- Avoiding overcrowded situations.
- Ensuring adequate ventilation in closed spaces.
Mahdi said unless people adhere to these rules, the healthcare system will become overloaded and more people will die.
Latest COVID-19 statistics
The latest COVID-19 statistics revealed that Gauteng is the country’s new epicentre having overtaken the Western Cape in total number of recorded cases.
While the focus has shifted to Gauteng in recent days, it does not mean the cases in other regions are low.
The Western Cape and Eastern Cape are still seeing a high number of new COVID-19 cases each day.