SA breaches 18 000 mark for new daily Covid-19 cases

By IOL Time of article published Dec 31, 2020

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South Africa on New Year’s Eve for the first time breached the 18 000 mark for new daily Covid-19 cases and 436 more Covid-19 related deaths have been reported.

The country has now recorded a cumulative total of 1 057 161 cases, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday

“Previously we warned that this second wave will dwarf the first wave and indeed this is the case as we witness a steep climb in numbers of active cases,“ said Mkhize, who was attending a candle lighting ceremony at King Edward Hospital in Durban.

“Despite performing of 55 000 tests in the past 24 hours, the positivity rate is 32,5%. We keep highlighting this point because this indicates that the virus is spreading so fast that it is outpacing our ability to detect it, even with good turnaround times,” Mkhize said.

The Health Minister said that 28 469 South Africans are known to have succumbed to Covid-19 this year, amongst those were 436 public health care workers.

A cumulative total of 43 124 health care workers have been infected with Covid-19, with 687 new cases in KwaZulu-Natal in the past week, he added.

“Every time a health care worker becomes infected with Covid, we lose at least 10 days of labour, so desperately needed during this time. We may lose these precious resources for longer if they become ill and need to be treated and isolated for longer. We may lose them forever if they succumb to Covid-19.

“But more importantly, health care workers are not just labour for the health care system- they are active members of society, breadwinners, community leaders, counsellors and role models. We must do everything to protect our health care workers,” Mkhize said.

“From our end, we continue to closely monitor PPE stock and distribution to ensure no health care worker is exposed to Covid-19 and we are working around the clock to secure vaccines as quickly as possible so that our health care workers can be immunized as soon as possible - this is a major focus for us right now.”

The Health Minister expressed concern that news variant and the vaccine rollout have “dominated the conversation” recently.

“The fact is the virus will continue to mutate and there will always be a new variant discovered - that is only a matter of time. The other fact is we do not have a vaccine right now. The virus will not wait until these matters are resolved.

“Therefore, fellow South Africans, I must echo the President’s plea that we remain absolutely focused on what each and every one of us can do now to protect ourselves and each other. We know that, in particular, wearing of masks and social distancing are very difficult to do all the time. But this is why it becomes ever more important to focus our minds collectively on these simple interventions that do save lives.

“If we cannot do these things, the numbers will continue to climb and we will witness Covid-19 itself causing devastation to our economy because when citizens are sick they cannot be economically active and resources must be prioritised to care for the sick, the dying and those who become indigent due to loss of breadwinners to sickness or death,”” Mkhize said.

“Therefore today, as we usher in the New Year, let us recalibrate our focus and concentrate on the things we can all do together to break the tide of Covid-19...

“As we light the candle, let it shine warm with hope, love and compassion for our fellow South Africans for a prosperous 2021 and a future where we can look back and say we defeated Covid-19 together, because we were in it together.”

More than 82.66 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,805,684​ have died, according to the latest Reuters tally.

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