Covid-19 infections now at 927, as Ramaphosa says 'we fear it might rise'
The number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa has risen by 218 in a day, bringing the total to 927.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday afternoon that there were more than 900 cases. Addressing the media at the Reserve Bank following a virtual meeting of the G20, Ramaphosa said South Africa was the most affected country in Africa.
“We now have more than 900 people who are infected, as the minister of health told me, and we fear that it might rise even further than that,” he said.
A short while later, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said in a statement: "As of today [Thursday], the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Africa have risen by 218. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 927."
Of those cases, 409 were in Gauteng, 229 in the Western Cape and 134 in KZN.
The country will go into a national lockdown from midnight for 21 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
South Africa's first recorded case of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, was reported on March 5, when a 38-year-old man from Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, became the first South African to test positive.
He had travelled to Italy with his wife and returned to the country on March 1. He consulted a private doctor on March 4.
Ramaphosa on Thursday participated in a teleconference of leaders of the G20, chaired by King Salmaan of Saudi Arabia, to discuss Covid-19.
“All countries are united. We've got to do everything we can to save lives,” Ramaphosa said.
He said that the G20 agreed that countries with developed economies should provide stimulus to ailing economies.
“We agreed to have debt relief from the World Bank and IMF so countries can halt interest payments and focus on fighting the coronavirus,” Ramaphosa said.
Prior to the meeting with the G20, Ramaphosa had a virtual meeting of the African Union Bureau, where the impact of Covid-19 on the continent was discussed.
“We agreed to call on the world, particularly the more developed economies, to come to Africa’s assistance from an economic point of view so that they provide stimulus so we have the resources to support our economies,” he said.
Ramaphosa said they called on developed economies not to ignore Africa in the supply of medical goods.
African countries formed an African coronavirus fund, which has capital of $17m (about R295.5m).