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Health department gives detailed update on COVID-19 in SA

The total number of cases confirmed since the virus was first detected in South Africa now stands at 1170, with the country recording its first death as a result of the virus.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize briefing the media on 16 March 2020 on plans by government to curb the spread of the coronavirus in South Africa. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The health Department released a comprehensive statement late on Friday night giving South Africans a deeper insight into the progress of the virus.

The total number of cases confirmed since the virus was first detected in South Africa now stands at 1170, with the country recording its first death as a result of the virus.

Initially, the health ministry reported two people had succumbed to the virus but follow up testing revealed one patient had died as a result of another condition.

Currently, 55 people are in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19, four are in ICU and three of those patients are on ventilators.

Thirty-one people are listed as recovered.

The department reported it's seeing an increase in infections in people with underlying conditions.

Some people are far more vulnerable to complications – including HIV Positive people with a low CD4 count, people with chronic Lung Diseases like TB and Asthma, people with any kind of auto Immune diseases, people with chronic kidney Diseases, cancer and diabetes.

The elderly are also more vulnerable than most

Smokers are at a higher risk of developing complications, and there's evidence to suggest heavy drinkers are also at risk.

There's also an increase in the rate of internal transmissions that means patients without a history of travel to COVID-19 hotspots.

The virus is highly contagious and spread by droplet infection.

The aim of the national shut down is to radically slow the spread of the virus by limiting social contact.

Meanwhile, during a briefing by ministers on the first day of the 21-day lockdown, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said some of the measures implemented including the restriction of non-essential movement still stand.

There were several taxi drivers who flouted the regulations on Friday by transporting more than seven passengers in each vehicle.

Mbalula has urged drivers to follow comply.

“We want to emphasize that the regulation as it stands, in relation to 5 am to 9 am transportation for essential [service] workers and 4 pm and 8 pm – that still stands.”