The number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in South Africa currently stands at 1 462, which is an increase of 82 new cases, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 27 were in the Western Cape, 20 in KwaZulu-Natal, 18 in Gauteng, eight in the Free State, and two in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo as well as one in Mpumalanga. Four cases were still unallocated as it was not clear which province the patients came from.
Mkhize said the number of people who have died as a result of coronavirus-related complications was still at five. However the health department was still waiting for clarification and verification on two other deaths.
He added although there had been an increase in the number of cases, it was still low compared to what was projected, saying this was partly due to the 21-day lockdown which was restricting the movement of people.
“That has really made a huge impact, and it’s still very early days. We are just starting and our current projections are indicating that we need to get out and find more and more of the people who are positive out in the community.
“We want to continue to do that and we want to say to our people we can fight this infection, we can fight Covid-19, we can actually defeat it and flatten the curve which means we must reduce the spread so that it doesn’t spread that rapidly, that’s what we think is going to be very important for us.”
Mkhize encouraged South Africans to stick to the basics of sanitising, following the rules and playing their part in boosting their immune systems ahead of the upcoming flu season.
“Let’s all get ready because the flu season is coming, try and avoid getting yourself exposed to the cold. Those who can take some nutritional supplements and boost your immunity, you can do that. All those things are encouraged.
“People must do everything that’s going to make them feel stronger and healthier and ready to deal with the flu. When you have symptoms, come forward let’s talk about them and see how we can assist you.
“All of this is to say, when the flu comes up it becomes difficult because the symptoms are the same so it becomes difficult to know whether it’s Covid-17, so when that pressure comes, it must not be that many people [rushing for medical assistance].”
Mkhize said the department had taken precautions to reduce the number of people in hospitals including the reduction of visitors and patients who are well enough to be treated from home in a bid to avoid cross-infections.
“All of these are precautions we are taking, but what I’m saying is we are ready to fight, we must be prepared to fight but even then we mustn’t be lulled to complacency. I said yesterday it’s the calm before the storm, therefore we prepare in such a way that the storm actually never comes, that’s how you’re going to beat the storm.”
He added the number of recovered patients was currently at 45, saying this number would grow over time.
“When you look at the number of people who have recovered, our number is currently at 45 but of course it’s slow because the number of those who are going to be recovered, you have to give them a minimum of 14 days and then check up on them, check tests, symptoms and then discharge them properly.
“They’ll catch up in time, but you see the same thing all over the world… Once you stop the new infections, you will find that the recoveries start catching up.”