South Africa has recorded 80,412 confirmed coronavirus cases with 1,670 deaths since the start of the outbreak in early March in the country, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the country reported 44,331 recoveries from the virus, accounting for 55 percent of the infections, Ramaphosa said in a televised speech to the nation.
Through a national lockdown, the country has succeeded in delaying the spread of the virus, he said.
“We used the time during the lockdown to prepare and enhance our health system and put in place public health measures to minimize infections,” Ramaphosa said.
But while the country has used the lockdown to flatten the curve, this task is far from complete, he said.
“Even after 100 days, we are still near the beginning of this epidemic and it will remain with us for many more months, possibly years,” said the president.
Over the last few weeks, the number of infections has been rising rapidly in the country.
Nearly a third of all confirmed cases have been recorded in the last week alone and more than half of all confirmed cases have been recorded over the last two weeks.
“Because as the country gradually opens up, as we resume more activities, the risk of infection inevitably increases,” Ramaphosa said.
He called for behavioral change by individuals through wearing masks, washing hands constantly and keeping social distance as an effective way to reduce the likelihood of being infected or infecting others.
“These basic practices are becoming even more important now as we ease the lockdown and enter a new phase in our coronavirus response,” said Ramaphosa.
Speaking of medical supply shortages, the president said the government is using every avenue available to source the supplies needed and to increase testing capacity and improve the turnaround time.
Among the initiatives that South Africa has pursued together with other countries on the African continent is the ground-breaking Africa Medical Supplies Portal.
This is a single continental marketplace where African countries can access critical medical supplies, such as test kits, from suppliers and manufacturers in Africa and around the world in the necessary quantities and at competitive prices, according to Ramaphosa.
“This platform will complement the work that is being done to ensure that we have the medical equipment, personal protective equipment and hospital facilities to manage the anticipated increase in COVID-19 patients,” he said. Enditem