South Africa has 5 647 confirmed Covid-19 cases, an increase of 297 from Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Thursday.
In addition, a total number of 207 530 tests have been conducted to date, of which 10 403 were conducted in the last 24 hours.
The Western Cape remains the epicentre of the coronavirus, with 2 342 cases.
The province is followed by Gauteng 1 446 and KwaZulu-Natal 980 cases.
Remaining provincial breakdown:
Eastern Cape: 647
Free State: 116
North West: 31
Northern Cape: 17
Total: 5 647
Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, along with experts on Covid-19, participated in a briefing hosted by the African region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday.
During the briefing, Mkhize discussed the approach taken by South Africa in minimising the spread of the virus, an approach which has received praise from the WHO.
South Africa’s efforts to fight the virus have been guided by a team of scientists, researchers and clinicians.
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“Government activities are led by a sound scientific base of a group of scientists, researchers and clinicians, who are at the back of guiding/making projections of Covid-19, and using that to guide government,” he said.
The guidance prompted the government to prepare for a large number of cases in hospitals, according to Mkhize.
“The numbers, which we might end up getting, will be much higher than the current capacity. Thus, we took a view that we needed to take containment measures to flatten the curve and we didn’t have to wait for the avalanche to descend on our health facilities,” he said.
South Africa initially went into a three-week lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, which was then extended by two weeks.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a risk-adjusted strategy, which includes the country going to Level 4 on Friday. This stage allows for some economic activity to continue while the government manages the spread of the deadly virus.
The minister added that the government had deployed over 60 000 community healthcare workers, reinforced by non-governmental organisations, to assist with the programme on the ground.
“At this point, six million people have been screened for symptoms and temperatures in communities where there are contacts, and where it is densely populated,” he explained.
The minister noted how the lockdown had assisted South Africa in flattening the curve – it stopped large meetings, closed borders, maintained physical distancing and instituted basic hygiene rules.
“The first five weeks flattened what would have been an exponential rise, now we are seeing a different trajectory. We have now broken down the country into five different levels from 1, low risk, to 5, high risk.
“All of this means we have gained time, but our message is clear that it is the scientific research which guides the response to Covid-19. We are hopeful that we have averted the first storm,” he said.