The Department of Health has released the latest COVID-19 case numbers, which show that South Africa now has 7,572 coronavirus cases.
This is an increase of 352 cases over the previous day and is in line with the trend over the last week.
A total of 268,064 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in South Africa, and 10,523 of these were done in the last 24 hours.
The total number of COVID-19-related deaths in South Africa is now 148 – up from 138 yesterday.
The Department of Health provided a breakdown of the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per province.
The big question – What happens after the lockdown?
South Africa has been congratulated for acting quickly and decisively to contain the spread of the coronavirus using stringent lockdown rules.
A growing number of people are now questioning the government’s strategy around the prolonged lockdown, however, considering the predicted loss of jobs and business closures.
There are many strategies to address the coronavirus pandemic, which range from strict lockdowns, like the one in South Africa, to only limited interventions like those implemented in Sweden.
These measures are typically linked to the outcome which a country is aiming for, which can be divided into two categories:
- Flatten the curve – The aim is to control the spread of the virus to avoid or delay the peak to ensure the healthcare system can cope with demand.
- Eradication – Using a strict lockdown to completely stop community transmission of the coronavirus, effectively eliminating the virus.
Eradication is challenging in countries like South Africa where the virus continues to show strong growth.
Flattening the curve is therefore the preferred option.
What is not widely communicated, in South Africa at least, is that a large percentage of a population must get the coronavirus in the “flatten the curve” strategy.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely explained herd immunity is needed to ensure a second wave of the outbreak is prevented.
“What they’re not saying is that ‘flatten the curve’ likely means that by the time this is over, 60% of us will have been infected, to develop herd immunity,” he said.
Blakely argues that herd immunity is needed to protect society once physical distancing and shutdown restrictions are lifted, and when borders are reopened.
This is partly because a vaccine against COVID-19 is estimated to be between 12-18 months away.