- South Africa recorded 918 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection up to Monday night, dropping down from a record-high of more than 1,000 new infections reported in the prior 24 hours
- President Cyril Ramaphosa said that most of South Africa should be at Level 3 by the end of May, though some areas may remain at Level 4.
After recording well over 1,000 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection over the prior 24 hours, South Africa dropped below that psychologically important mark again on Monday.
The country now has 16,433 known cases of infection, health minister Zweli Mkhize said, making for an increase of 918 over the previous day.
But the total number of tests conducted also slowed down, from 21,314 in the previous 24-hour cycle to 14,198 up to Monday night.
Another 22 deaths moved the total death toll up to 286.
Here’s what else know about the Covid-19 pandemic in SA:
Level 3 is coming – for big parts of SA, if not everywhere
In an address to the nation on Wednesday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that most of the country should be in Level 3 of lockdown by the end of the month.
Some areas with high infection rates – particularly cities – may remain at Level 4.
But Ramaphosa indicated that Level 4 restrictions on retail, e-commerce and exercise will be lifted in coming days.
“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on level 4. We will make further announcements after the completion of the consultations. In the coming days, we will also be announcing certain changes to level 4 regulations to expand permitted business activities in the retail space and e-commerce and reduce restrictions on exercise.”
Ramaphosa said that without the lockdown, at least 80,000 South Africans could have been infected by now. The death toll could have been eight times higher. While 219 South Africans have died, at a similar stage of the pandemic in the US, there were more than 22,000 deaths.
Ramaphosa said that by delaying the spread of the disease, SA has been able to add nearly 25,000 additional beds available for quarantine, and source and produce substantial quantities of personal protective equipment for health workers, vital medical equipment and other supplies.Field workers have now screened over 9 million people, and SA has conducted nearly 370,000 coronavirus tests. “This is the largest and most extensive public health mobilisation in the history of our country,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that government has now introduced an economic and social relief package worth over R500 billion to help companies and South Africans in distress.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund has paid out more than R11 billion to two million employees, while the R200 billion government-backed loan guarantee scheme has started to receive applications from businesses.
At the beginning of May, government paid out an additional R5 billion to social grant recipients. Ramaphosa said that three million South Africans have now applied for the temporary R350-a-month unemployment grant.
He admitted that government at times fell short of expectations.”Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory and some have been poorly explained. Implementation has sometimes been slow and enforcement has sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh.”
“I want to reaffirm my commitment and the commitment of the government I lead to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the life, the dignity and the interests of the South African people.”
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