Gauteng is quickly becoming the epicentre of coronavirus cases in South Africa, recording the most Covid-19-related deaths for three consecutive days and barely trailing behind the Western Cape in terms of positive cases.
On Tuesday night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize released the latest coronavirus figures, which paint a stark picture for South Africa’s most densely populated province.
Nationally, 10,134 new cases have been reported, bringing the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases to 215,855. On Monday, the number was 205,721, breaching the 200,000 mark.
On Monday, the Western Cape had recorded 70,938 cases, with Gauteng at 66,891. By Tuesday night, Gauteng had recorded 71,488 cases, trailing slightly behind the Western Cape, which had recorded 72,156 cases.
This is in line with predictions that Gauteng will emerge with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the coming days, overtaking the Western Cape, according to Mkhize.
Gauteng recorded 75 deaths on Tuesday, 50 on Monday and 71 on Sunday. This means Gauteng has overtaken the Western Cape in terms of the number of reported Covid-19 fatalities for three days running.
On 28 June, Mkhize said: “We believe that within the coming days, Gauteng will emerge with the highest Covid-19 numbers. Factors contributing to this trend are inward migration, the large population, increased congregating which spurs cluster outbreaks, and the level to which people are able to adapt to new behaviours such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.
“He said it was inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks as infections spilt from communities into places where people were gathering, such as mines, factories, taxis and buses.”
He said when the country moved from lockdown Level 4 to 3, there was a large inward movement of people as economic activities resumed.
“The surge that has been witnessed in the past two weeks has developed due to speeding of infections carried in by members of the community as they moved back into the workplace,” he added.
By Tuesday night, the Department of Health had reported a further 192 Covid-19-related deaths since Monday: 15 in Limpopo, 22 in KwaZulu-Natal, 36 in the Eastern Cape, 44 in the Western Cape and 75 in Gauteng. This brings the total deaths to 3 502.
A total of 1,907,532 tests had been completed, of which 43.421 new tests had been reported.
“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the healthcare workers who treated the deceased,” Mkhize said.
The number of recoveries is 102,299, which translates to a recovery rate of 47.4%.
Mkhize earlier said a rapid rise was being seen in the cumulative number of positive cases, showing that, as expected, the country was approaching a surge during the winter months of July and August.
“It is anticipated that while every province will, unfortunately, witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise – beginning with Gauteng and the Western Cape and followed by the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.”
A need to increase Covid-19 hospital beds in Gauteng had also been identified and the department would be assisting to ensure there was enough capacity to meet the rapidly rising demands. Gauteng is also being urged to strengthen its contact tracing and quarantine or isolation uptake, the minister said.