South Africa has seen a jump in confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, with the total now at 554 – up 152 from Monday’s report, said health minister Zweli Mkhize.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday (24 March), Mkhize said that the majority of these cases are in a ‘good condition’ and most are not symptomatic.

He added that two patients are currently being treated in the Intensive Care Unit at private hospitals, but he added that there have been no confirmed deaths.

Mkhize said that the number of South African cases are expected to increase over the next week, with a change in cases hopefully being seen in the next two to three weeks as the effects of the lockdown are seen.

“We must not be shocked when we the number (of cases) increase, but these measures – if we all work together – will turn the curve around. It won’t happen tomorrow, it won’t happen next week, and if there is any change it will will probably be seen in a couple of weeks,” said Mkhize.

The health minister said that testing capacity will be ramped up, and said that if a confirmed case refuses to follow regulations their names will be made public.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening announced drastic new measures to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in South Africa. The president enforced a three week lockdown period, beginning Thursday (26 March), at midnight, with severe restrictions on travel and movement.

Measures included in the lockdown:

  • All South Africans will have to stay at home.
  • Exempted: health workers in public and private health sectors; emergency personnel; security services such as police and soldiers; those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods; those working in essential services.
  • People will only be able to leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, or seek medical care; or to collect a social grant.
  • Shelters for homeless people will be identified, as well as quarantine areas for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
  • All businesses will close – only medical facilities pharmacies, laboratories, petrol stations and food stores will remain open;
  • Essential transport services will also continue.

Globally, infections are accelerating, having spread to nearly every country in the world.

“It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases,” The World Health Organisation said.

Worldwide there have been 382,568 reported cases, with 16,578 deaths. 102,522 people have recovered, but 263,468 cases remain active, with 12,079 in serious or critical condition.

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