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Mkhize Provides Update on COVID-19 Pandemic

August 7, 2020

Department of Health

The health minister, Zweli Mkhize, has announced that 3 078 202 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted in South Africa up to now.

The minister recently updated the media on the pandemic.

He added that the total number of tests translates to a testing rate of 51 514 per million population which compares well to global figures.

Reference was made to the plateau observed in some provinces.

“The question that has been raised is whether the plateau that is observed in some provinces is due to reduced testing numbers or if indeed less people are becoming infected with Coronavirus.”

The minister clarified that in order to assess this, other key indicators have been looked at including reduced hospital admissions and PUI’s presenting in health facilities; hospital capacity not breached and no significant increase in deaths.

He indicated that it is, however, still too early to make definite conclusions regarding the observed decline.

“We need to continue to track all these indicators and ensure that our testing capacity reflects a realist picture of our epidemiological status. We will therefore only know for sure when there is a consistent decline over a period,” he said.

As regards improving the records of COVID-19 related deaths in response to reports on excess deaths, the department now requires that “all the sudden deaths and those that occur at home must have specimens taken for COVID-19 before a death certificate is issued”.

The minister pointed out that, as at 2 August 2020, a total of 24,104 infected Health Workers has been received from provinces with 181 fatalities recorded.

“This means that the national infection rate of health care workers stands at 5% of all confirmed cases,” he said.

The minister also announced that the World Health Organisation will be sending to South Africa “43 senior experts from across the globe including renowned specialists such as Dr David Heymann, who is a seasoned infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert”.

In terms of an update on vaccines, the minister confirmed that currently South Africa is “participating in the ChAdOx-1 study and in the COVAX project to be part of the global research initiatives as well as the access to vaccines programme”.