The number of confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus cases in South Africa has climbed to 2,028, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Saturday (11 April).
This is an increase of 25 new cases from Friday, while minister Mkhize said that an additional person has died as a result of the virus, taking the total number of deaths to 25.
The total number of tests conducted so far is 75,053.
Mkhize said that the deceased was a 61-year-old male from the Western Cape. He had underlying medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
Globally, coronavirus cases moved to 1,701,317, with 102,830 reported deaths, and 376,813 recoveries.
The US has surpassed Italy as the country with the greatest number of deaths from the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The outbreak has now claimed the lives of more than 18,860 people in the US, which also has more than 503,500 infections.
Mkhize has also announced that 13,488 tracers have been brought on board to help the country to find the contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19.
“We want to call on everyone to cooperate with the screening processes. Contact tracing, screening and test referring will be our strongest way going forward. We must have a new culture of social distancing, and no hugs, kissing or shaking of hands.
“Contact tracing is important. We need to scale up the screening of patients in various communities. Thus far, 456,074 people have been screened in the provinces,” said the minister, adding that 73,028 Covid-19 tests have been conducted.
With the world’s highest number of HIV infections – almost 8 million people out of a population of 59 million – the country is banking on decades of experience in fighting communicable diseases, Bloomberg reported.
The government has deployed 67 mobile screening and testing vans along with 10,000 field workers in a bid to boost testing tenfold to 30,000 a day by the end of April.
Half of the staff have been seconded from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which has operated in South Africa for 17 years.
In Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg and accounts for about 40% of all known infections, about 27,000 people had been screened by 9 April, Bloomberg reported.
Nationwide, the number of tests per day doubled between April 5 and April 8 to around 6,000, health department figures show.
Essential services to continue over Easter
As the number of cases climbs, government has assured that essential services will still be offered over the Easter weekend.
“As the country approaches the Easter weekend, government would like to assure citizens that amongst the essential services identified in terms of the national lockdown regulations, the most critical ones within the public service will continue to operate, including health care and law enforcement,” government said in a statement on Good Friday.
While a number of departments will have their offices closed from Friday, 10 April to Monday, 13 April, hotlines will remain operational to provide continued services.