A cross is placed on top of a hill as shacks are seen beneath, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (Covid-19) lockdown in Freedom Park, south of Johannesburg. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
A cross is placed on top of a hill as shacks are seen beneath, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (Covid-19) lockdown in Freedom Park, south of Johannesburg. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

SA’s Covid-19 cases jump to 901 538 as 8 725 new cases recorded

By IOL Reporter, Reuters Time of article published Dec 18, 2020

Share this article:

Johannesburg/Cape Town - Over the past 24 hours, South Africa has recorded 8 725 new Covid-19 cases and a further 274 deaths, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.

The country, which is now firmly in a second wave of coronavirus infections has recorded 901 538 cases since the pandemic hit our shores in March.

The total number of deaths from the virus now stands at 24 285.

Mkhize also voiced concern about the number of young people who are now being infected during a briefing on Friday in which he informed the nation of a new variant of the virus which has been identified.

This after scores of young people who attended matric rage festivals and other year-end get-togethers subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

ACTIVE CASES, DEATHS AND RECOVERIES

The Western Cape currently has the highest number of active cases in the country at 31 272.

Of the 274 new Covid-19 related deaths that have been reported 101 were from the Western Cape, 92 from the Eastern Cape, 56 frrom KwaZulu-Natal, 15 from Gauteng, 6 were from the Free State and 4 from Mpumalanga.

The number of people who have recovered now stands at 783 818.

TESTING

To date, 6 051 986 tests have been completed with 40 751 new tests conducted since the last report, Mkhize said.

NEW COVID-19 VARIANT

The country has identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is driving a second wave of infections, days after Britain said it had also found a new variant of the virus boosting cases.

"We have convened this public briefing today to announce that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus - currently termed 501.V2 Variant - has been identified by our genomics scientists here in South Africa," Mkhize tweeted.

"The evidence that has been collated, therefore, strongly suggests that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant," Mkhize added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday it was in touch with the South African researchers who identified the new variant.

The global body added there was no indication there were changes in the way the new strain of the virus was behaving.

"We are working with them with our SARS-COV-2 Virus evolution working group. They are growing the virus in the country and they're working with researchers to determine any changes in the behaviour of the virus itself in terms of transmission," WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told a news conference in Geneva.

FASTER SPREAD

Authorities said the new variant seemed to spread faster than the previous iteration, but that it was too early to tell its severity and whether current vaccines would work against it.

"In the UK they have also identified a new variant ... there are quite a few similarities between the two lineages ... there are also a similar number of mutations" said Prof Tulio de Oliviera, a member of government's genomics consortium in a televised briefing.

IOL and Reuters

Share this article:

Related Articles