Charles Cilliers
2 minute read
24 Mar 2020
10:26 am

Mkhize reveals another big jump in Covid-19 infections, to 554

Charles Cilliers

The health minister has called on South Africans not to panic and to expect more infections before the curve goes down.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize Picture: Jacques Nelles

Speaking in Pretoria on Tuesday morning, the interministerial committee tasked with limiting the infection rate of Covid-19 was giving feedback to South Africans on what to expect over the next three weeks.

The number of coronavirus infections now stands at a confirmed figure of 554, a jump from 402 yesterday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed.

There were conversions where people turned negative after initially testing positive. Most infected patients have been in good condition and no longer symptomatic. Two have been admitted to ICU. There have been no deaths.

Speaking first, Dr Mkhize explained that the priority remained to flatten the infection curve; people should not have a false sense of reassurance that the lockdown had made anyone any safer. People still needed to wash their hands and take all the same precautions individually to prevent the spread.

“We are trying to freeze the movement of the virus.”

He said there were 16 million people who moved around the country on public transport and this needed to be shut down. He  also thanked churches for their “patriotism” after they cancelled large gatherings, including the Easter pilgrimage to Moria.

He warned that numbers would continue to increase, but the numbers would start to come down within two to three weeks.

“In the next week or two, the numbers will have grown by three or four times or so. We mustn’t be shocked when we see them increase. But it won’t happen tomorrow or next week.” A turnaround would take “a couple of weeks”.

Containing everyone for 21 days would allow people to prevent the spread of the virus to others if they were infected.

“We will thereafter engage the public to give further details and explanations on the results including the significant rise, the ongoing testing processes, each province’s progress on contact tracing efforts,” said Mkhize.

He revealed Gauteng had 302 infections. Most of them are in Johannesburg.

The Western Cape was at 113.

KZN: 80. Four people who initially tested positive later tested negative.

Free State: 18

Limpopo: 4

Northern Cape: 2

Mpumalanga: 9

Eastern Cape: 2

North West: 5

The minister’s breakdown did not add up to 554, but he said there were cases that had not been allocated.

This story is being updated.

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