Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to impact the country until the end of next year.

South Africa has recorded over 144 000 coronavirus cases, with the death tally now standing at 2 529.

More than 70 000 South Africans have recovered from the disease.

Mkhize says people will have to continue fighting the coronavirus with safety and preventative measures.

“We think we might be with this virus for the whole of this year and next year. We need to find a way of adjusting to living in a situation where the virus is among us.”

“A large number of South Africans can prevent themselves from getting infected and infecting others by taking the basic precautions. It is no longer in the hands of nurses and doctors. It is in the hands of each and every South African because the virus can be defeated by simple preventative means of distancing, masks, hand sanitizers and washing hands.”

INFOGRAPHIC: COVID-19 cases in SA:

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Gauteng is expected to soon become the epicentre of the disease in the country. Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has said health officials are putting further measures in place to assist those infected with the coronavirus. The province also received 700 beds as a donation on Monday as efforts continue to ensure that province’s healthcare system is fully resourced to deal with any possible influx of patients at hospitals.

The Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba has also said preparations are in full swing to ensure that the province is ready for a spike. “If you go back to the condition of our hospitals in the province, you will find the majority of them were not designed to stand the test of COVID-19. We have now engaged efforts in view of the shortage of oxygen, to deal with piping in major hospitals, so we can deal with the issue with the demand of oxygen in the hospitals,” she’s told journalists.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has urged residents of the province who are unable to self-isolate or quarantine themselves at their homes to make use of the province’s quarantine and isolation facilities.

This as calls mount for South Africans to heed to COVID-19 lockdown regulations as the country enters its peak season. The calls also come amid concerns that the number of recoveries has dropped to under 50% nationally and is now at 48.9%.

Minister Mkhize has urged Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape to brace themselves for COVID-19 storm.

In the video below, Minister Mkhize updates the nation on COVID-19: