South Africa’s prudent decision to institute a countrywide lockdown has evaded an exponential explosion of cases of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic within the borders of the country, the Department of Health said on Tuesday.
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said while the lockdown will not spell the end of new infections, it has, however, significantly delayed the peak of the virus. This has bought the country precious time to beef up its response, and prepare health facilities for the management and treatment of those infected with COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, 28 April, the country had 4 996 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 93 deaths.
Mkhize revealed that from 6 March, the country has conducted 185 497 tests. During this period, over six million people have been screened for symptoms and have had temperature checks. During this process, 11 000 were referred for COVID-19 tests.
Between 6 and 12 March, the country had done 413 tests. The tests doubled the following week, steadily increasing over the subsequent weeks to the extent of 25 000 tests done in the past week.
The Western Cape, with 1 870 cases, has become the country’s epicentre of the outbreak. Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal follow with 1 387 and 919 cases, respectively. With 616 cases, the Eastern Cape follows. While the Free State has 113 confirmed cases, the remaining provinces all have less than 40 cases each.
Speaking extensively on the impact of the lockdown, which came into effect on 27 March and was extended by a further two weeks on 9 April, Mkhize said this intervention stopped an exponential increase in cases.
Furthermore, South Africa has announced an elaborate, phased easing of the lockdown, which is categorised according to risk levels. This, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said, will allow the country to resume economic activity, while safeguarding human life.