It's no surprise Covid-19 infections are rising during lockdown, say experts

Virus experts say even the limited amount of movement allowed in the country has contributed to coronavirus infections rising.
Virus experts say even the limited amount of movement allowed in the country has contributed to coronavirus infections rising.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

Experts in the field of viruses and diseases on Monday moved to clarify that it was not surprising that coronavirus infections had continued to spread despite a lockdown which has forced many to remain in their homes for the past five weeks.

On Monday alone, the country recorded 247 new infections, bringing the total to 4,793.

“The lockdown doesn’t get rid of the virus. It just limits the transmission. We are still leaving home for various reasons. It just decreases the rate. It’s not surprising we still see an increase in numbers. It’s nothing unique that we are identifying more cases,” said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand.

Prof Mosa Moshabela, dean of the University of KwaZulu-Natal's School of Nursing and Public Health, agreed.

“Transmission occurs through contact. Wherever there’s someone who has it, they can pass it on. People continue to interact. Some people are essential workers, some go to shops. As long as people are still going to funerals, there’s a chance of transmission.

“The only thing we can do is try to control the spread, and by being indoors it has been slowed down. It is not increasing dramatically since we have shutdown. It’s not all bad. We are making progress,” Moshabela said.

Madhi said there was more that could be done.

“We are not testing the numbers of people we should be testing. We are still not on target. The majority of people who are infected don’t show any symptoms at all. Those people may not be tested and can go around unknowingly infecting other people. We can expect to see an increase,” he said.

Nationally, millions of South Africans have been screened. Gauteng and Limpopo have reported screenings of more than 3-million people.

The Gauteng health department on Tuesday released statistics of the number people it had tested during screening and testing campaigns carried out on Monday.

In one region, particularly the Alexandra, Marlboro, Modderfontein, Klipfontein, Wynberg, Sandton, Orange Grove and Houghton areas, which remains the epicentre of the virus in Gauteng, 2,611 people were screened on Monday,

From this group, 1,510 were referred for testing and 15 people were advised to go into quarantine.

The number of infections in the province on Monday stood at 1,353. A total of 876 of these patients had since recovered and tested negative while eight people had died. Sixty-four people remain in hospital where they are receiving treatment.

The breakdown of infections per Gauteng region are:

  • Johannesburg 804
  • Ekurhuleni 300
  • Tshwane 136
  • Sedibeng 15
  • West Rand 43
  • 55 cases remained unallocated by region.

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