While South Africa’s coronavirus cases have surpassed the 100 000 mark, experts warn that the numbers are expected to reach much higher levels.

This, as the peak of infection is likely to be recorded between August and September this year. To date, more than 1.3 million tests have been conducted, and almost 2000 lives have been lost.

The province of Gauteng accounts for 122 of the 1 991 coronavirus deaths reported nationally. The economic hub of Johannesburg remains the epicentre with 11 000 of the more than 22 000 cases in the province.  This is followed by the Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng and the West Rand.

While the latest figures for the country have shocked many, Interim Executive Director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases Professor Lynn Morris says South Africans are in for a tough few months ahead.

“There is no doubt that the number of infections is going to continue to increase. Behavioural changes do impact on the numbers. Overall in the country, they are predicting the peak will be in August and September. There is a lot of discussion around whether this virus will become endemic. In the same way that we get the flu strain, so that means that we can’t eliminate the virus completely. There are still pockets of infections and as soon as we relax our guard, the virus comes back.”

In the video below, the breakdown of the numbers:

Health professionals need to be kept healthy 

Professor Morris says while hospitals are prepared for the influx of coronavirus cases, healthcare professionals who remain at risk, need to be kept healthy to continue saving lives.

“Despite all the good preparation, this is something that is going to overwhelm our healthcare services. Healthcare workers themselves are at high risk. If we start losing healthcare workers – no matter how many hospitals we have – if we don’t have people to attend to patients, the hospital will not serve its purpose. We are in for a rough time and that’s why it’s important that we all do our best to help each other, and limit your interaction with people.”

Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuka attributes the high number of cases in Johannesburg to the high economic activity in the city. He says with the peak expected from August, the province remains in a state of readiness.

“It is an expected increase that is associated with the backlog. We are almost ready for the intensity that comes with it. Johannesburg has always been on the increase in terms of confirmed and active cases. The religious celebrations increased the small outbreaks. We need to make sure that the system is ready and does not collapse when we have a high number of confirmed and active cases.”