South Africa registered a spike in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, increasing to 709 positive cases.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize made the announcement saying the most increases were in Gauteng where there are 64 new cases.
“We are expecting quite an increase. We are still in very early days,” Mkhize said.
The Western Cape recorded 61 confirmed cases while KZN had 11 new cases.
The minister said the 15 new cases in the Free State were concerning for him because it was all linked to a church in Mangaung.
South Africa is set to go into lock down for 21 days from Thursday evening in a bid to curb the increase in coronavirus cases.
Authorities will adopt zero tolerance towards anyone who disregards and does not comply with the lock down rules with the police and military set to enforce the lock down.
Dr Mkhize said the lock down ought not to be interpreted as an opportunity for people to through parties and invite friends over to socialize but more as a necessity to limit interaction.
“They must take this very seriously. If they think President (Cyril) Ramaphosa has given them a free holiday of three weeks and they can just around galivanting, they must know that actually we will pay a price for it,” he said during a morning interview on SABC.
South Africans will still be able to leave their homes to buy food, seek medical care and collect social grants.
But all shops and businesses will be closed, except for essentials including pharmacies, banks, supermarkets and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
With the lock down looming, scores of South Africans rushed to the shops as panic buying intensified. Shoppers were seen buying various food essentials in bulk in fear of not being able to go to shops till next month.