WARNING: Minster Zweli Mkhize
WARNING: Minster Zweli Mkhize

Five dead as coronavirus cases rise to 1 353 in SA

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 31, 2020

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South Africa now has 1 353 confirmed cases of infections and five people have died from Covid-19, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

The minister was speaking during a press conference in Durban. 

He said the latest death was from KwaZulu-Natal, where a 46-year-old woman from uMlazi, Durban, died. The woman had underlying chronic asthma and hypertension, the minister said. 

The other death recorded on Tuesday was from Gauteng, where a 79-year-old man with no history of travel who had been to Cape Town died after having respiratory distress. 

More than 39 000 people had been tested, so far, he said. 

The other four deaths: 

Western Cape - a 48-year-old woman with an underlying condition

Free-State - an 85-year-old male pensioner who had been at the church which is the hotspot for the virus in that province

KZN - a 74-year-old male pensioner from Ladysmith

Mkhize said the death of the uMlazi woman was confirmed on Tuesday "a few hours ago". The woman had been admitted to hospital on seeking attention for hypertension and asthma. She was subsequently for coronavirus, and found to be positive. 

"We do wish to convey our condolences," he said. 

The minister also said there was a huge pressure on laboratory services to test more people. 

"We picked up backlogs in system. We moved tests to national lab services. By Friday we cleared 4 000 lab tests. Watching the system for backlogs," he said.

He said government was changing the testing strategy to one of a mass testing strategy. He said Gauteng started the programme on Tuesday and he would be visiting other provinces to ensure this was done. 

"We won’t go to areas at the same time. This morning Gauteng already started this programme. I will be visiting other provinces

"We have noticed a trend in past week. The rate of increase is not as high as we anticipated. We are observing the trend. We anticipated 4000-5000 but we haven’t reached that.

"We will see more and more mobile vans. We want to be ahead of the curve. Patients are recovering well. Most patients are stable. Numbers in hospital also increasing," said the minister.

The minister said government was working hard to ensure health workers were protected with protective gear.

"Scaling up of testing might increase number of infections. Remains serious and a challenge as we go to cold winter months. The step for lockdown was important. Remember hygiene and stay at home.

"Reduction of traffic in trains and taxis has helped contain spread. We are picking up positive cases but quarantine means infection won’t spread," he said.

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