South Africa has recorded five deaths resulting from Coronavirus, with 1 353 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, made the announcement at a media briefing in eThekweni on Tuesday.
To date, the country has conducted 39 500 tests.
The first recorded death was that of a 48-year-old woman in the Western Cape, with the second being an 85-year-old from the Free State, who had attended the Divine Restoration Church Ministries conference, where a number of infections were detected.
The third death was that of a Gauteng man, who succumbed to respiratory distress two days ago. Two deaths have also been recorded in KwaZulu-Natal — a 74-year-old man in Ladysmith and a 46-year-old woman with chronic asthma and hypertension.
Mkhize said government planned on escalating the testing and screening of patients. Over 10 000 field workers will be brought on board.
“We are converting teams from NGOs to assist with testing. We have decided to be targeted. We will go for hot spots. We had a defensive approach but now we will go into areas where the virus is spreading,” Mkhize said.
Mobile vans will be utilised to assist with screening and testing.
“We want to be ahead of the curve. Patients are recovering well. Most patients are stable,” the Minister said.
Gauteng still has the highest number of infections, with 633; Western Cape 325, KZN 179; Free State 74; North West 8; Mpumalanga 12; Limpopo 14; Eastern Cape 12; Northern Cape 6. There are 90 positive cases, which are not yet allocated to any province.
Mkhize said the numbers are still under expert predictions, while 55 patients have been admitted to hospital.
However, existing buildings are being utilised for extra beds in order to get the country ready to deal with higher patient numbers.
Discussion have also been held with medical device manufacturers in order for them to start building additional stock of ventilators.
To alleviate pressure on testing labs, capacity has been increased and now up to 3 000 tests can be conducted in a day.
People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing. People who are infected with Coronavirus, but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.
Using mobile technology, an extensive tracing system will be rapidly deployed to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed Coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical location of new cases in real time.
The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) is pursuing various sources of supplies to obtain polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based test kits and has a commitment from suppliers that South Africa will be a priority, according to Chief Executive Officer, Dr Kamy Chetty.
Currently, the NHLS has six laboratories performing COVID-19 related tests. This number will increase to nine by April 2020.
In addition, the NHLS has 18 state-of-the-art Cobas 6 800 and 8 800 machines that will dramatically improve the volumes of tests that can be conducted.
Chetty said the NHLS also has over 180 GeneXpert analysers, which will be available in all provinces for testing COVID-19, by April 2020.
The Coronavirus test kit for the GeneXpert analyser has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The test kit can deliver a COVID-19 diagnosis in 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura has expressed his condolences following the passing of a 79-year-old, who tested positive for COVID-19.
“I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences and express our collective grief to the family and friends of the deceased,” said the Premier in a statement after the province recorded its first death due to the virus.
The 79-year-old man was admitted to a private hospital in Mogale City, West Rand, on Saturday, 28 March 2020.
He subsequently passed away on Monday, 30 March.
Currently, the province has recorded 633 COVID-19 positive people out of 1 353 nationally.
The province on Tuesday began the process to screen residents for the Coronavirus.
Screening began in the township of Alexandra.
“Screening and testing of residents will be done in a systematic manner, initially focusing on areas with the largest number of contacts and high density areas that have the greatest level of vulnerability,” said the provincial government. – SAnews.gov.za