Today marks a week since South Africa went into lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Is South Africa flattening the curve?
The panic has settled for many and at this point, life without alcohol and other paraphernalia is as gloomy as the day is long.
The most pertinent question that will rise out of Thursday’s COVID-19 discourse is, how well has South Africa done in the past seven days to curb the spread of the virus?
The opinions of our leaders are subjective. That’s why we have looked to statistics for some indication of the country’s progress in this war against an unseen enemy.
The daily infection statistics are updated regularly by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), a health organisation that is central in the study of this pathogen.
COVID-19 SA statistics: Here’s how things look a week into lockdown
These are the latest COVID-19 statistics for South Africa, updated by the NICD on Wednesday evening.
Infections: 1 380 (an increase of 27 from the previous tally)
Total number of tests conducted: 44 292
Infections by province:
- Eastern Cape: 15
- Free State: 76
- Gauteng: 645
- KwaZulu-Natal: 186
- Limpopo: 14
- Mpumalanga: 12
- Northern Cape: 7
- North West: 9
- Western Cape: 326
- Unallocated: 90
The numbers don’t lie and from what we have observed, it seems that the rate of COVID-19 infections has dramatically decreased. since only 27 new cases were recorded from 3 220 tests.
At a media briefing, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize warned that it is too early to celebrate this drop in daily infections. This, he said, is due to the fact that the sample size (tests conducted) is too small in comparison to South Africa’s population.
“Those people who might have mild symptoms in poorer areas may not seek assistance immediately. Our testing criteria is reactive and restrictive. This means we don’t have a true picture. Although we are talking about 45000 tests, this is too low, given the size of the population,” he said.
Stopping local transmission is a top priority
He did recognise the impact of the 21-day lockdown, though, attributing the drop we have seen to “closing [of] the borders and enforcing a quarantine on inbound travellers.”
“The lockdown has slowed internal transmission by reducing the spread during large gatherings and overcrowded transport routes eg Trains, buses and taxis,” Mkhize added.
To escalate the increase of testing, 60 new mobile laboratories have been rolled out by the health department. According to the NICD, these mobile testing vans will be deployed nationwide to fast-track testing and hopefully detect COVID-19 during the incubation period.
“In light of the increasing incidence of COVID-19 local transmissions, there will be an enhanced door-to-door testing and increased deployment of community healthcare workers, a proactive strategy to intensify the measures to combat [COVID-19],” the disease authority noted.
South Africa has a lot of work to do in the next two weeks. The people are — for the most part — adhering to the strict lockdown protocol. The ball now lies in the court of the health ministry whose main priority is to stop the spread of local transmissions.