South Africa reports record highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases

A homeless person stands outside a temporary tent in Pretoria, South Africa, April 15, 2020. South Africa has provided temporary tents and food for the homeless to better control the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Shiraaz Mohamed/Xinhua)
Children queue for food at a school feeding scheme during a nationwide lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Blue Downs township near Cape Town, South Africa, May 4, 2020. Picture taken May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

South Africa on Saturday reported 831 cases of COVID-19, the highest daily increase since the country reported its first case in early March.

With the newly confirmed cases, the country’s caseload has reached 14,355, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

Cases in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces combined comprise 91 percent of the 831 cases, said Mkhize.

The country also reported 14 new deaths from COVID-19, taking the national total to 261, he said.

So far, 6,478 patients have recovered from the disease, the minister said, adding the mortality and recovery rates stand at 1.8 percent and 42.4 percent respectively.

As of Saturday, 439,559 tests have been conducted, with 18,004 done over the last 24 hours, said Mkhize.

He said South Africa has succeeded in flattening the curve, which facilitated the ramp-up and cohesion of the country’s health care system as well as preparation of hospital spaces as the country began to resume its economic and social development.

“We have screened 10,737,341 citizens, and we now have 376 sites identified for quarantine nationally with 30,823 quarantine beds,” he said.

Mkhize pointed out that the country remains “guided by the World Health Organization recommendations for easing lockdown restrictions.”

The process of easing lockdown regulations is a highly consultative one where various stakeholder inputs are taken into account to influence implementation, he said.

Also on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired a meeting of the President’s Coordinating Council to deliberate preparations for moving most of the country to level three of the national lockdown, which will entail more extensive reopening of the economy and the lifting of restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

The country eased the lockdown restrictions from level five to level four on May 1, allowing certain businesses to reopen.