coronavirus latest

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize briefs media on Covid-19 epidemic. [Photo: DIRCO]

Update: Coronavirus cases up to 554 in SA, Mkhize welcomes lockdown

The number has risen significantly since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would undergo a lockdown.

coronavirus latest

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize briefs media on Covid-19 epidemic. [Photo: DIRCO]

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa climbed to 554, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Tuesday 24 March.

Number of coronavirus cases increase by 152

This is an increase of 152, with the most cases still being treated in Gauteng.

Coonavirus cases in the Free State now sit at 18, an increase of 5 infections from the previous update. Authorities are still urgently seeking members of the Division Restoration Ministry in the Free State, who were part of the gathering between 9-14 March and were possibly exposed to COVID-19-positive congregants from overseas.

Mkhize said that the South African leadership was taking lessons from other governements who have been dealing with mounting caseloads. He also said that there are currently two positive patients in ICU.

“We are learning from other countries including from their mistakes,” he said. “The virus works differently in different countries. China had an epicentre of infection in Wuhan, we had the majority of infections from travel. We are asking other countries for help “

“It is not possible to give a prediction for how long this is going to take. Each country is different. External factors and human behaviour all influence how things progress. We have two patients in ICU who have tested positive, not on respirators at the moment.”

Speaking for the first time since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown to take effect from midnight on Thursday to 16 April, Mkhize said that he hoped that we would see the a “flattening of the curve” in the next few weeks as people stayed home.

”Our main priority is to flatten the curve of infection. We are in a battlezone and we are the foot soldiers,” said Mkhize.

Jail time for those who refuse quarantine

Mkhize said that the lockdown measures put in place by ramaphosa would need to be followed very strictly, and warned that if you test positive for COVID-19 and refuse to undergo quarantine, you could face jail time.

“If we ask you to go to quarantine, go to quarantine. If you don’t go to quarantine we will enforce it,” Mkhize said, adding that a person could face up to 15 years imprisonment if they are in breach of the regulations around testing positive for the virus.

He said that handwashing and other hygeine measures would still need to be strictly observed too.

“The hygiene of blocking your nose and mouth when you cough, watching your distance between someone who is coughing or sneezing, is still very, very important. The issue of washing hands and hygiene is still very very important,” said Mkhize.

“People mustn’t think that ‘the president has declared a lockdown, we are now safe’. This [the lockdown] creates an environment, a condition under which we can all fight against the spread of the infection,” he added.

This is a developing story