South Africa’s total number of positive COVID-19 cases has risen by 831 to 14 355. In the last 24-hours, coronavirus-related fatalities have gone up by 14, bringing the total number to 261.

439 559 tests have been conducted so far. 18 004 of those were done in the last 24 hours, the  Health Department has confirmed on Saturday.

The Eastern Cape and Western Cape made up 91% of the new cases.

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize says, “We wish to express our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who cared for the deceased.”

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The Western Cape still leads with the most COVID-19 cases, making up 58.5% of the country’s total cases with 8 404 cases. The province is followed by Gauteng with 2 262 cases, making up 15.8% of South Africa’s COVID-19 cases.

Limpopo has the least number of cases as it has recorded 59 cases, 0.4% of the county’s total cases.

The private sector accounts for 48.5% total national tests after having conducted a total of 213 172 tests.

6 478 people have recovered from the virus in South Africa.

WHO recommendations on easing lockdown restrictions

As countries in Europe and areas of the US start to lift their lockdowns, the World Health Organisation has released criteria for lifting lockdowns.

Mkhize has thanked South Africans for their tenacity and cooperation with government in the fight against COVID-19. He says that he knows that citizens are eager to return to normalcy, albeit a new normal.

He says that the country has succeeded in flattening the curve, “which facilitated ramping up and cohesion of our health care system as well as preparation of our spaces as we resume our economic and social development.”

“A few examples are that we have screened 10 737 341 citizens. We now have 376 sites identified for quarantine nationally with 30 823 quarantine beds. Significantly, our mortality rate, 1.8%, remains well below the global average which is currently 6.6% and our recovery rate is 42.4%, above the global average of 38%,” the Minister said in a statement.

The minister says that government is consulting with various stakeholders on the easing of lockdown. He says this process is guided by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations, which are as follows:

  • Strong surveillance and the controlled decline of cases;
  • Health systems in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and contact;
  • Minimised outbreak risks, especially in places such as facilities and nursing homes;
  • Preventative measures are put in place in workplaces, schools and other essential places;
  • Management of cases;
  • Education, engagement and empowerment of communities.

“The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully and in a phased approach,” Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said.