A healthcare worker collecting a swab for a COVID-19 test from a community member. AFP via Getty Images

South Africa is finally seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and President Cyril Ramaphosa could announce eased lockdown restrictions later this week.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Saturday that there are now a total of 553,188 cases of coronavirus in South Africa, reflecting an increase of 7,712 cases from the 545,476 infections reported previously.

The data shows that there are 301 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total to 10,210 casualties.

A steady decline in the infection rate and other critical indicators have raised hopes that the worst of the pandemic’s first wave is over and that a relaxation of lockdown regulations could come as early as this week, after Tuesday’s meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), according to The Sunday Times.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation no later than Saturday.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize warned of the possibility of a second wave, however, and urged South Africans to stay on guard.

“Whilst we are cautiously optimistic, it is still too early for us to make definite conclusions regarding the observed decline. We need to continue to track all these indicators and ensure that our testing capacity reflects a realistic picture of our epidemiological status,” he said.

Hinting at a possible relaxation of lockdown regulations, Mkhize said: “We will table recommendations to the [NCCC]. Next week we should be able to get some guidance from the NCCC and the president on the next steps.”

For more read: ‘We have reason to be optimistic’: How SA is taming Covid-19 storm


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