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S Africa records highest daily COVID-19 infections as easing of lockdown looms

Press Trust of India  |  Johannesburg 

The number of coronavirus cases in South Africa surged past the 5,000-mark on Thursday after it recorded the highest single-day jump, just a day before the country was set to gradually ease its over a month-long nationwide lockdown.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that there had been a 73 per cent daily increase in confirmed COVID-19 infections, with 354 new cases taking the total to 5,350.

There were also 10 deaths overnight, raising the total death toll to 103.

The Health Department attributed these large figures to a proportionate increase in the number of tests conducted.

"The total number of tests conducted to date is 197,127, of which 11,630 were done in the last 24 hours. This is the highest number of tests done in a 24-hour period, representing a 66 per cent increase relative to the previous day's tally.

Additionally, we have also recorded the highest COVID-19 positive result yield from a 24-hour cycle of testing at 3 per cent, the statement said.

The department also expressed concern that that the number of new cases in the Western Cape Province had almost doubled from 133 to 264.

"In the past 24 hours the Western Cape contributed to 75 per cent of the total new cases nationally while only contributing 30 per cent of total tests over the same period.

"These concerning trends have prompted us to plan for additional support to be deployed to the province to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The province has been asked to recruit additional personnel and 30 Cuban doctors will also be sent to reinforce the human resource capacity," the statement said.

200 doctors from Cuba who arrived in South Africa on Monday are currently in quarantine before being deployed to assist local medical personnel across the country.

South Africa has been on an extended 45-day national lockdown that ends on Thursday.

From May 1, the country will be on a phase 4 lockdown, during which there will be slight changes, mainly allowing prepared food deliveries and the sale of cigarettes, both of which were previously prohibited.

Some industries will be allowed to gradually start operating again, with strict restrictions regarding number of workers, social distancing and PPE availability.

A decision which was expected this week on the reopening of schools and other educational institutions has been deferred to an indefinite date amid reports that many schools will not be ready for the required social distancing and sanitisation processes; as well as concerns raised by both parents and teachers about the risks involved.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, April 30 2020. 15:20 IST