South Africa’s coronavirus cases are lower than expected – but there is some bad news: Mkhize

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that South Africa’s rate of coronavirus infections are largely in line with existing models and that the country is likely to see a ‘peak’  in the coming months.

Presenting to parliament on Wednesday (8 July), Mkhize said that the country is still following an ‘optimistic’ scenario.

“Current model projections indicate that while the epidemic is predicted to peak nationally at a similar time to the previously projected ‘optimistic’ curve (that is mid-August), it will do so at a lower level,” he said.

“Fewer people were infected in May and June than was previously predicted.”

However, Dr Mkhize cautioned that bed capacity is still projected to be overwhelmed in all provinces. He cited specific issues with the number of ICU beds in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

“Bed capacity, including all currently committed public and private-sector beds is expected to be breached in the next four weeks.”

To accommodate this, the Department of Health has developed a ‘surge strategy’ in anticipation of the peak.

Mkhize called it a balancing act as the department also has to deal with non-coronavirus treatments for diseases including TB and HIV which are seen as co-morbidities.

While the Western Cape has reported the highest number of cases, Mkhize said that Gauteng will likely become the epicentre of the coronavirus in South Africa as soon as Thursday.

However, as the number of cases increase across the country, Mkhize said that it is no longer just about numbers.

“It’s no longer a matter of announcing numbers of confirmed cases. We are now at a point where it’s our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, close friend and comrade that are infected.

“As a country and the world at large, we are now in this reality where we must live with knowing that some of us cannot even bury our loved ones because of restrictions or even because we ourselves have been exposed.”

As of 7 July that there are 215,855 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 10,134 cases from the 205,721 cases reported on Monday – with a new 24-hour high for the country of 10,853 cases recorded over the weekend.

A total of 3,502 casualties and 102,299 recoveries have been reported to date. A total of 1.9 million tests have been conducted, with 43,421 tests conducted over the previous 24 hours,

Read: South Africa to look at African medicines in fight against coronavirus: minister

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