177,124 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 2,952

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 177,124 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 9,063 cases from the 168,061 cases reported on Thursday – and a new 24-hour high for the country.

The minister announced 108 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 2,952 casualties, and a mortality rate of 1.7%, with 86,298 recoveries to date.

A total of 1.74 million tests have been conducted, with 39,025 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.

Globally, since 31 December 2019 and as of 03 July 2020, in excess of 11 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, with 525,000 deaths, with 6.1 million recoveries.

Bloomberg reported that the novel coronavirus is showing some signs of mutating in a way that may make it easier for the pathogen to spread, citing Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

There is research underway that suggests a single mutation affecting a specific amino acid is emerging that allows the virus to replicate better and create a higher viral load, measures that could make it easier to transmit, Fauci said at an online event hosted by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The news of a change that may hasten the spread of the virus around the world comes as the number of cases continues to surge globally.

“It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible,” he said. “This is still at the stage of trying to confirm that.”

Drastic measures

Gauteng premier David Makhura says the Provincial Coronavirus Command Council is consulting with various sectors about the need to reinstate some of the drastic measures that will ensure that the pandemic is contained.

Makhura said that the province will also, among the key interventions, make a representation to the National Command Council on the need to re-introduce stringent measures, including possible intermittent localised lockdowns and slowing down of re-opening of sectors and schools.

“We have to do whatever it takes to contain the spread of the pandemic,” Makhura said.

Presenting the province’s interventions to curb the spread of Coronavirus at the Provincial Command Council weekly media update on Covid-19 held on Thursday, Makhura noted that the month of June has seen a sharp spike in the number of confirmed cases on a daily basis, and the province now has the largest number of active cases.

“Hospitalisation has also increased exponentially in the past 14 days. Although the mortality rate is still low but it is increasing. The Covid-19 storm has arrived.

“Health services and health workers are beginning to bear the brunt of Covid-19 as the case load increases. The pandemic is running ahead of the projected peak of September,” Makhura said.

Makhura said that work is currently underway to increase bed capacity and staffing in the public sector, including field hospital beds at Nasrec and Tshwane Events Centre.

“Four thousand five hundred additional beds will be ready by the end of July, in preparation for the peak.

“Over the next four weeks, ward-based Covid-19 response teams will be active in localities to help get the message out to communities about the need to observe health and hygiene measures, social distancing and wearing of masks,” Makhura said.

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