- President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised South Africans for ‘delaying’ Covid-19 infections and deaths.
- His statement comes as the country prepares for a peak in infections in August.
- As of Saturday night, South Africa had recorded more than half a million confirmed cases.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country could have experienced dramatic loss of life and an uncontrolled increase in Covid-19 infections in late March – he attributed this to the national lockdown.
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Ramaphosa said this in a statement on Saturday night, in which he praised South Africans for adhering to the stringent lockdown regulations which had been in effect since late March.
Ramaphosa said: “The national lockdown succeeded in delaying the spread of the virus by more than two months, preventing a sudden and uncontrolled increase in infections in late March. Had South Africans not acted together to prevent this outcome, our health system would have been overwhelmed in every province. This would have resulted in a dramatic loss of life.”
His statement comes as the country prepares for peak infections in August.
As of Saturday night, South Africa had recorded more than half a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Of the cumulative total of 503 290 cases, 342 461 people have recovered and 152 676 cases were currently active.
The country has the fifth highest number of total Covid-19 cases globally, and the 36th highest number of deaths in proportion to its population.
The president said the global coronavirus pandemic was the most serious public health crisis the world has had to face in over a century. On every continent, nations have struggled to contain the spread of the virus and to contend with its effects, he said.
“In our own country, 8 153 people are known to have lost their lives, and the actual number of deaths due to the virus is likely to exceed this figure. We deeply mourn this loss and offer our sympathies to the families and friends who are in grief.”
He said after a rapid rise in infections over the past two months, the daily increase in infections appeared to be stabilising, particularly in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.
“While it may be too soon to draw firm conclusions, this suggests that the prevention measures that South Africans have implemented are having an effect,” said Ramaphosa.
“Our recovery rate is currently around 68%. Our case fatality rate – which is the number of deaths as a proportion of confirmed cases – remains at 1.6%, significantly lower than the global average. For this, we are grateful to the work of our health professionals and the innovative treatments they have pioneered,” said Ramaphosa.
He said countrywide field hospitals in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Pietermaritzburg, among others, continued to be essential in providing adequate care to those who needed it.
The president also noted that several public hospitals in the Eastern Cape were overwhelmed as infections rose in the province, saying a specialist team had been deployed to address this challenge.
He praised other hotspot provinces for containing the spread.
“In other provinces hard hit by the epidemic, including the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the health system has so far had sufficient capacity to cope with the number of admissions. This is a testament to the efforts of doctors, nurses, public health specialists and others who have worked hard to prepare for this moment. We need, however, to continue with these efforts to further increase the capacity of our health facilities.”
He said in August that the National Ventilator Project would deliver 20 000 locally produced, non-invasive ventilators to where they were most needed.
“A dedicated team drawn from several institutions, led by the Biovac Institute, is preparing to manufacture doses of a successful vaccine locally,” said Ramaphosa.
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