As many as 12 million people in the country might have contracted the coronavirus, the Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has said.

As of Tuesday, 15 September, there are 651,521 cases of the coronavirus on home soil. However, Mkhize said that number could be dramatically higher.

In a statement, the minister said: “Interestingly, the revised models currently predict that there are probably about 12 million South African in total (detected and undetected) infected with Coronavirus- this translates to about 20% of the population.”

“We are currently embarking on a national seroprevalence study which should take us closer to the actual seroprevalence of Coronavirus antibodies and will give us a more accurate indication of our status of national immunity,” Mkhize added.

The minister also said the country had seen a decline in the number of infections, which he attributed to citizens adhering to non-pharmaceutical interventions. These include practicing social distancing, using sanitisers and wearing face masks.

Mkhize said the country has shown that with concerted effort and solidarity, it was possible to beat the coronavirus.

“However, I must continue to advise caution as we move towards the new normal: if we are to maintain this status quo of low transmission rates we must continue to concentrate on the simple things that keep Coronavirus at bay- washing or sanitizing hands at every opportunity, maintaining a safe distance between each other, regular cleaning and sanitization of surfaces we come into contact with and wearing of masks whenever we are in public spaces,” he added.

Mkhize has also reminded South Africans that a resurgence of the virus is still a possibility and that it might even be worse than the first wave of infections.

“Most importantly we must encourage and remind one another that these simple interventions remain an important part of our new lives,” he said.

More than 32 000 health workers have COVID-19

The minister also touched on the state of the healthcare sector and workers who have been infected with the respiratory disease, and reiterated that their protection remains one of the department’s main priorities.

“We continue to track the numbers of health workers who are infected in each province. Our system now has direct linkage with the persal system so that any health worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19 is immediately identified,” he said.

So far, 32 429 health care workers have contracted COVID-19, while 257 others have succumbed to the virus.


Presh JM Reporter

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