On Sunday evening, South Africa’s Covid-19 cases surpassed the 1 million mark. The country currently has a cumulative 1,004,413 confirmed cases, the highest in the continent. The country, which has a population of 60 million people, has recorded 26,735 deaths, part of the cumulative total.
Announcing the transcend of the 1 million marks, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize added that South Africa had registered 9,502 new cases and 214 deaths in the past 24-hours.
Going by the statistics, the coronavirus disease is spreading fast in South Africa. The cumulative number of cases rose from 800,000 to 900,000 within two weeks. On the other hand, after reporting 900,000 cases, it took only nine days to exceed one million cases.
Over the past two weeks, the country’s seven-day rolling has almost doubled to 19.86 cases per 100,000 people on 26 December, down from 10.24 new cases per 100,000 people in 12 December. The number of deaths has also recorded the same trend, rising from 0.25 deaths per 100,000 people to 0.48 deaths per 100,000 people within the two weeks.
New Covid-19 Variant
South Africa had reported a new variant of the coronavirus amidst the resurgence. The new variant, 501.V2, is more contagious and has rapidly become dominant in the coastal provinces of Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape.
Only South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) had reported cases of a new variant. Experts predicted that the variant would spread to other countries. True to their words, on Monday, South Korea detected the new variant, which they believe has originated from the UK.
Experts say the Covid-19 virus mutation has enabled it to bind more easily with human body cells.
About 50 countries have issued the UK with travel bans hoping to curb the new strain from spreading. South Africa has also got its share of travel bans, including a travel ban from the UK.
Hospitals reach Capacity
With no hope of the resurgence reaching its peak, most South African hospitals have reached full capacity.
On Sunday, Mediclinic International, one of the country’s top hospitals, highlighted that the increase in the number of cases has consequently resulted in strain in the hospital; right from the staff, to equipment. The hospital also added that their ICU and high-care units were currently operating at capacity.
Hope is still alive
Despite the vaccinations having not reached South Africa, President Ramaphosa is optimistic that the first 10 percent of the country’s population will be vaccinated in early 2021.
Speaking to Associated Press, Dr. Richard Lessels – infectious disease specialist – noted that the situation against the variant is not a “helpless” one. He suggested that behavior change will give the variant less room to spread. Notably, he proposed avoiding contact with persons in enclosed spaces.
However, Lessells expects people returning from holidays from the affected coastal areas to carry the variant. Also, he says travelers can also take the variant with them across the country’s borders to other African countries.
With increasing cases of Covid-19, President Ramaphosa is expected to put in place more strict measures to counter the resurgence.