Deaths now at 25 as recorded Covid-19 infections rise to 2,028

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the total number of deaths from Covid-19 in South Africa had risen to 25, with the total number of infections so far at 2,028, an increase of 25 from Friday.

Just over 75,000 tests have now been done. He was speaking via telephone to the SABC on day 16 of the nationwide lockdown, and answering questions.

“Most of the cases in the Western Cape are in the Cape Town metro. It is the same as in the Johannesburg, Durban and Mangaung metros.”

The new death was a 61-year-old man from the Western Cape.

The minister expressed hope that people who had been infected once with the coronavirus would not get infected again. Interestingly, he revealed that they had not yet discovered a patient who was both HIV positive and infected with the coronavirus, so it was not yet known if the combination would be very serious.

“KZN has a high death toll, more than six patients have died from one institution. We need to get into why this is so. We have now decided the hospital needs to be closed down and an investigation needs to be launched.

“The disease is new, so we act as we learn. As we speak now we have records of research. People who exhale air while wearing a mask that are infected reduce the spread of the infection.”

He called on people to continue to reduce large gatherings, as it reduced the spread.

“The number of new infections is not increasing as much as it would’ve been. The borders have also been closed preventing new imported infections.”

Mkhize also advised that those people going to a private doctor or private lab for a test would have to pay for themselves.

“If the recommendation came from a public hospital you will not need to pay for testing.”

“I think we need to appreciate all the hard work the health workers are doing during this time. A large number have been assisted and screened. Those displaying symptoms are being tested,” added the minister.

During mass screening operations “we ask questions and check temperature and for the presence of symptoms. Then we start with screening. If you’re displaying symptoms then you are tested. This is where a specimen is taken from the back of your throat.”

In answer to another question, the minister said cloth masks could be effective, also noting there was a short supply of surgical/N95 masks.

“Therefore they’re not necessary to wear unless you’re in a highly infective environment, ie, frontline health workers.”

Giving hope that the lockdown will eventually end, Mkhize said that when it did “we need to continue with social distancing, regular washing of hands and mask wearing”.

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