Gauteng has recorded 156 new coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths as 11 362 new cases have been registered in the country. On Wednesday, the Health Department recorded a total of 240 new fatalities, most of which are from Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu Natal with 27 deaths, which brings to 7 497 the total death toll in the country.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa currently stands at 471 123, steadily making its way up to half a million cases. 50 cases remain unaccounted for.

A total of 2 873 163 tests have been conducted to date with 42 528 new tests conducted since the last report.

Below is the breakdown of the numbers as of 29 July:

Steady decline in Western Cape 

The Western Cape government says there has been a steady decline in COVID-19 infections and related deaths in recent days. Head of the Health Department, Dr. Keith Cloete, says the decline in numbers is mainly due to safety protocols.

The province currently has just under 3 000 COVID related deaths with over 75 000 recoveries.

Cloete was speaking during a virtual media briefing this afternoon.

While infections in some regions like the Southern Cape and the Central Karoo are on the increase, there’s s steady decline in the Cape Metro.

Cloete says they have planned early for sufficient hospital beds, ventilators, and oxygen masks.

“We had a peak of about over 40% at one time. We are now declining to less than 30% in terms of test positivity rate, which means that one in three tests are positive. We have relatively more negative tests than it was previously.”

‘At least 13 days in isolation’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says people who test positive for coronavirus and display symptoms must spend at least 13 days in isolation.

Asymptomatic people need to isolate for ten days.

The WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove says, “What we’ve recently done is use the data that I just described to give other recommendations that are not testing-based to say when someone can be released and is no longer infectious. So, what we recommend now is for symptomatic patients … they need to be isolated for at least 10 days from the time that they develop symptoms plus an additional three days after symptoms resolve. If you are asymptomatic it’s 10 days from the time you test positive.”

In the video below, WHO Executive Director Dr. Mike Ryan Maria and epidemiologist Dr. Van Kerkhove engage with the public about the novel coronavirus:

Non-appearance before parliament

Meanwhile, the Gauteng Provincial government failed to appear before parliament on Wednesday to brief it about the province’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

MPs were informed at the 11th hour that the provincial executive committee was holding an emergency meeting to discuss a controversial multi-million rand tender which was awarded to a company of the husband of Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko for the supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

Although the contract has since been cancelled, the storm over the tender rages on with some calling for the head of the provincial health MEC, Bandile Masuku.

Committee Chairperson Faith Muthambi announced to MPs the reason for the non-appearance of the Gauteng authorities.

“They requested us to give them a date to come after they have processed the matter as the provincial executive. I felt it would be fair enough because remember at the time we scheduled them already we didn’t know about this latest development that you have seen in the media. So, the plea is to make sure that when they come they should be able to appraise us on the latest development.”