Cape Town – The cumulative total of Covid-19 cases in South Africa stands at 767,679 with 2,270 new cases identified since the last report, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Sunday.
Mkhize said 58 deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 28, Free State 13, Gauteng 8 and Western Cape 9. This brings the total to 20,903 deaths.
The cumulative number of tests carried out to date is 5,290,966 including 21,904 new tests carried out since the last report.
South Africa’s recoveries now stand at 710,099, which corresponds to a recovery rate of 92.5%.
As the holiday season approaches, health experts have warned that reckless action could lead to super-spreading events and increased infections in rural parts of the country.
The number of reported cases remained stable for a few weeks, averaging less than 2,000 cases.
But last week, various cluster epidemics had caused an increase in reported cases. The hottest areas were in the Eastern Cape, the Free State and the Western Cape.
Even with the increase in cluster outbreaks, the head of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said South Africa was not in a second wave and was not on its way to get there.
He cautioned against fear-mongering rhetoric and said that on average the number of cases in most parts of the country was low.
“South Africa is not in a second wave at the moment and it is not entering a second wave at the moment. We have an outbreak in the Eastern Cape and in the Western Cape Garden Route area.
“If these epidemics are not effectively controlled, we run the risk of entering a second wave. We are in fact in a good position of low transmission in the rest of the country,” Abdool Karim said on Sunday morning.
Similar sentiments were shared by SA Medical Research Council member Professor Glenda Gray, who said what was happening in the Eastern Cape was a classic case of community transmission driven by high profile events.
She said the increase in cases was not unusual at the moment and was part of the pandemic patterns.
“The ongoing transmission will always continue until we have a vaccine or herd immunity. There will be events that will cause super-spread epidemics. , “Gray said.
Gray and Abdool Karim expressed concern about the holiday season and people traveling to areas unaffected by the virus – especially rural areas.
“What worries me is the December period when three things are going to happen that worry me. First, people get complacent while on vacation and stop wearing their masks and not social distancing and second, they start going to parties. and we’ll end up with super-spreader events.
“The third is that I’m very worried about intergenerational family reunions, children meet their parents and grandparents and put the elderly at risk. So these are the three things that deeply concern me in December and those three things could end us. with a second wave in January, ”he warned.
Abdool Karim said the behavior of citizens will be the ultimate marker of what happens next.
“We have to control our own behavior if we don’t want to be in a second wave in January.”
Gray said: “What we need to do is make sure that when you go back to parts of the country that haven’t been affected, you continue to practice your social distancing, wear masks and wash your clothes. hands.
“We are particularly concerned about the elderly and those with co-morbidities. So when people go back to their loved ones, they must remember that it is their duty to protect these people so that they do not catch Covid, ”she said.
The government, through President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mkhize, had indicated that it was possible that cluster outbreaks in different regions would require these areas to be locked. But there has been no action on this measure.
Abdool Karim said stay-at-home (lockout) orders could only be helpful in extreme situations and that the measures currently in place were enough to keep cases low – if followed.
“Stay at home commands should only be considered as a last resort. At present, we have many tools that we can use to control the spread of the virus.
“It’s not (stay-at-home orders) that could be considered anytime soon. It would be something we would think about if hospitals were overwhelmed and the spread was not being controlled and people were not listening. should be at a very advanced stage as a last resort, ”he said.