SA has surpassed 1 million Covid-19 infections - here's what you should know

28 December 2020 - 14:35 By cebelihle bhengu
South Africa has recorded more than a million Covid-19 cases to date.
South Africa has recorded more than a million Covid-19 cases to date.
Image: Alon Skuy

SA has surpassed one million Covid-19 infections since the country confirmed its first case on March 5.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement on Sunday, and urged South Africans to continue taking precautionary measures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Mkhize announced SA had entered its second wave of Covid-19 infections.

He said the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were key drivers of the new wave. 

Last week, health care experts announced a new variant of Covid-19, known as SARS-Cov2 or 501.v2 variant, had been identified in SA.

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on the coronavirus, said there were early signs the new variant was spreading faster than the viruses in the first wave.

He said it was still unclear whether it is more severe than the original variants.

Mkhize on one million cases 

SA reported 9,502 new cases on Sunday, 26,735 total deaths and 6,445,318 tests conducted since March. The minister said the Eastern Cape had reported more deaths related to Covid-19.

“Regrettably, today we report 214 deaths related to Covid-19. Eastern Cape reported 123, Gauteng 17, KwaZulu-Natal 13, Northern Cape five and Western Cape 56. This brings the total deaths to 26,735.” 

Provinces most affected 

The four provinces initially flagged for rising Covid-19 infections in the second wave continue to have the most cases, according to the latest report from the health ministry.

Here's a breakdown of the figures:

  • Gauteng: 274,272 
  • Western Cape: 196,833 
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 183,653 
  • Eastern Cape: 166,849 

More restrictions? 

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to meet the cabinet on Tuesday to discuss the state of Covid-19 in the country. This has raised speculation about whether he will announce the reintroduction of stricter restrictions later this week.

This comes after Mkhize hinted last week that the government could be forced to review the current restrictions. Mkhize would not be drawn to divulge whether stricter regulations would be reinforced, saying the decision will be made by the national coronavirus command council and the cabinet.

“The level 1 restrictions were based on the fact that the numbers were declining. Now that the numbers are increasing, it's going to be important for us to make sure there are further restrictions in terms of gatherings and any risk areas.

“We have seen people behaving in a manner that created congestion and the easy spread of infections,” he told the SABC.

What you can do to protect yourself

The minister cautioned against complacency and emphasised the importance of adhering to the non-pharmaceutical regulations such as wearing masks, social distancing, sanitising and washing hands and good hygiene.

“Yes, it is raising concerns because it is a variant, but we shouldn’t panic. The basic measures we have been taking must continue.

We must emphasise to everyone in our country that wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and sanitising is a major issue on which we must focus.”

He said those who deny the seriousness of the coronavirus are those who have not come in contact with people who have been infected with the virus.