Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Photo: ANA
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Photo: ANA

SA's Covid-19 infections now at 1 380

By Zintle Mahlati and Lou-Anne Daniels Time of article published Apr 1, 2020

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Johannesburg/Cape Town - South Africa now has 1 380 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections.  This is an increase of 27 new cases from Tuesday's figures as announced by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. 

On Wednesday, Mkhize paid homage to Professor Gita Ramjee, who died on Tuesday night. Ramjee had dedicated most of her life dedicated to researching and fighting the HIV virus.

Ramjee was a world-renowned vaccine scientist and HIV prevention researcher with  the South African Medical Research Council. Mkhize described her as a " stellar professional". He said she had recently returned to the country from a conference in London and had shown no symptoms of the virus, until later on. 

Mkhize sent condolences to the Ramjee family.  

Meanwhile, Mkhize said more than  47 000 tests had been undertaken, but he bemoaned this was 'too few' given the size of the South African population.  

He has warned local transmissions were on the rise as government rolled out heightened mobile testing efforts. He said government's efforts had so far been reactive, but government would not be going into communities to test on the "offence". 

He also said there was a number of townships which had confirmed cases, which had government concerned. 

Government had approached President Cyril Ramaphosa to approach China and Cuba to see if they could assist in efforts to combat the spread of the virus in South Africa. 

Mkhize launched mobile units which will be used for Covid-19 sampling and testing.

"In light of the increasing incidence of Covid-19 local transmissions, it has become necessary to scale up the capacity of testing citizens across the country. To this end, The National Health Laboratory service has procured 60 mobile sampling and testing units to be deployed nationwide to all districts and metropolitan municipalities," the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) said. 

The mobile units are being rolled out as apart of a mass screening and testing initiative announced by Ramaphosa earlier this week.

"Around 10 000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for Covid-19 symptoms. People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing.

"People who are infected with coronavirus but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by the government and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals," Ramaphosa said in a televised speech on Monday.

While the president's announcement has been welcomed by a number of opposition parties, the North West-based Forum 4 Service Delivery has expressed concern that 10 000 field workers would not be enough for the mammoth task.

Globally, more than 42 000 people have died from Covid-19 and more than  851 000 infections have been reported in over 200 countries. 

IOL

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999

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