The number of people in South Africa officially infected with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has risen by 52 to 202 cases.
The majority of new infections – 33 – have been registered in Gauteng.
They include two children, aged two and 11. The travel history of the majority of new patients is yet to be determined. Others had travelled to Europe, the US and the UK. One man is 67 years old, which is considered high risk because advanced age could impair a person’s immunity.
The Free State now has seven confirmed cases, of which two patients are 68 and 74 years of age.
The Western Cape has 11 new cases, with four patients older than 60, while KwaZulu-Natal – where South Africa’s first Covid-19 patient was diagnosed – has one more confirmed case.
On Friday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said: “We must mobilise to fight infections. We must flatten the curve. Simple hygiene is key in fighting Covid-19. Please heed the call to follow precautionary measures.”
READ | Coronavirus in SA: All the confirmed cases
According to Mkhize, one of the positive cases in Free State is a mother of two, who is a health worker. Because of the work she does in a private hospital, government has identified the number of patients she looked after and they, too, will be screened.
“Leaders in society must not fear the virus, but we need to be realistic about it. Scientists estimate that 60% of the population will be affected by the virus at some point, but not all at the same time,” Mkhize said.
The reaction to the spread of the coronavirus locally has been severe.
Schools have been closed to prevent the spread among children, who are more vulnerable.
Internationally and locally, a multitude of events – from concerts to sports events and church gatherings – have been either postponed or cancelled.
While most local patients caught SARS-CoV-2 – as the new coronavirus strain has been named – while travelling internationally, a number of local transmissions have since been reported. This means the patient got the virus right here, in South Africa.
On 11 March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that Covid-19 was a pandemic.
“This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing in Geneva.
“We are deeply concerned by the alarming levels of the spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” said Ghebreyesus, adding that the word “pandemic” should not be used lightly or carelessly.
“It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.”
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the outbreak of Covid-19 a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. He said South Africa has the “knowledge, means and resources” to defeat the virus.
To implement social distancing measures and help flatten the curve of the spread of the deadly virus within the country, gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited, while large-scale celebrations of national days have been cancelled.
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