By Hassan Isilow – South Africa steps up testing to contain spread and manage COVID-19 cases
Johannesburg – South Africa’s top doctor announced Friday two more people have died from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to seven, with cases of those infected topping 1,500.
“The total number that has tested positive at this point is 1,505, that indicates 43 new cases that have been recorded today,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a televised news conference at Khayelitsha Hospital near Cape Town.
Mkhize said the newly deceased are a man and a woman, ages 80 and 81, both residents of KwaZulu-Natal province.
Mkhize also thanked healthcare workers for their tireless work to save lives during the pandemic.
He said they expect to see an increase in the number of patients in the coming days as the country embarks on mass testing.
“In terms of our projections there is a feeling that whatever numbers we are seeing now will change as soon as we go out to the community to test more people,” he said.
Experts have praised South Africa’s approach in managing the spread of coronavirus, saying it acted faster compared to many countries on the continent.
South Africa has tested nearly 50,000 people for the virus compared to many African states who say they face a shortage of testing kits.
The country is currently in its first week of a 21-day shutdown where only essential staff such as health workers, food producers, supermarkets, and telecommunications staff are allowed to leave home.
Africa’s most advanced economy expects to soon start testing thousands each day.
Mkhize said they need to do more tests to reduce the impact of the virus on South Africans.
“It doesn’t matter how much we spend on fighting COVID-19, it’s worthwhile,” he said, calling on South Africans to respect the lockdown and come for testing whenever they are called up.
He also said they had held a fruitful video conference on Friday with Chinese doctors, some of who managed the outbreak in Shanghai, Wuhan and Beijing and shared their advice.