Nearly 2,000 new Covid-19 cases in SA

'Large numbers' of those hit by Covid-19 in SA are black: Mkhize

29 May 2020 - 20:17
By Matthew Savides and Kgaugelo Masweneng
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File picture.
Image: Photo by Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. File picture.

The number of Covid-19 cases in SA increased by 1,837 in the past 24 hours, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.

This means that there are now 29,240 confirmed cases across SA, with the Western Cape (18,906 — or 64.6%) still the epicentre.

Mkhize said that there were also an additional 34 deaths recorded, taking the death toll to 611.

He was speaking at a media briefing on Friday.

Earlier at the briefing, he said a “large number” of those infected and who have died from Covid-19 in SA were black. He said that there had been requests for racial data for infections and deaths, but that this information was not readily available because this is not how it was collected.

However, he said that the data available showed that the black population was the most affected.

“As far as Covid-19 is concerned, at this point we actually don't see a distinction between most of the challenges that we face which are affecting the majority of South Africans, particularly among the black community.

“And therefore we do understand that a large number of the people who are patients and who have succumbed from the infection [Covid-19] are largely from the black population of our country,” he said.

Mkhize said there had been 14 health workers “recorded to have passed” from Covid-19.

At the same briefing, Dr Kamy Chetty, CEO of the National Health Laboratory Service, said that there were 83,767 “unprocessed” Covid-19 specimen tests. While she said this figure changed daily, it was a “clear reflection” of the backlog as of Thursday, May 28.

“As you process samples, there’s a reduction; at the same time we are receiving tests.

“The problem started in the first week in May when demand exceeded supply due to a global shortage of extraction and high throughput kits, interruption with production, flight cancellations and custom delays,” Chetty said.

The largest backlog was in Gauteng (24,000), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (22,000), the Eastern Cape (21,000), Western Cape (15,000) and Free State (1,767). There were no backlogs in other provinces.

The provincial breakdown of cases, deaths and recoveries was on Thursday provided as:

  • Western Cape — 18,906 cases, 437 deaths, 9,830 recoveries;
  • Gauteng — 3,583 cases, 31 deaths, 2,019 recoveries; 
  • Eastern Cape — 3,583 cases, 80 deaths, 1,700 recoveries;
  • KwaZulu-Natal — 2,428 cases, 50 deaths, 1,180 recoveries;
  • Free State — 231 cases, 8 deaths, 124 recoveries;
  • Limpopo — 170 cases, 3 deaths, 97 recoveries;
  • North West — 143 cases, 1 death, 45 recoveries;
  • Mpumalanga — 112 cases, 0 deaths, 67 recoveries;
  • Northern Cape — 52 cases, 1 death, 31 recoveries; and
  • Unallocated — 32 cases.

These statistics were based on a total of 680,175 tests across SA, of which 24,452 tests were done in the last 24-hour reporting cycle.