Education expert Mary Metcalfe says basic protocols of preventing the spread of the coronavirus should be maintained even when the country moves to Alert Level 1 lockdown.

Recently, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize gave an assuring account of the country’s fight against COVID-19 and said South Africa could soon move from Alert Level 2 lockdown.

This comes as the country’s coronavirus infection rate slows down. On Sunday, 1 579 new coronavirus infections were recorded since Saturday – bringing the cumulative number of cases to 649 793. The total number of deaths is 15 447.

Metcalfe says experts say the pandemic will persist for at least another year.

“That means that the basic tendency of keeping oneself and others safe which is physical distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands, is going to be the norm for schools I would say until this time next year. What that means is that there will be physical distancing and the majority of schools, only half of the learners will be able to attend at a time. This means there are huge challenges for families to support learning at home,” says Metcalfe.

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A total number of 3 918 478 tests have been conducted to date in the country, with 15 692 new recorded tests conducted as of Sunday.

The public sector accounts for 1 696 446 (43%) tests while the private sector accounts for 2 222 032 (57%) of total tests.

577 906 people have recovered from the virus, bringing the country’s recovery rate to 88.9%.