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Latest COVID-19 data to guide govt on any lockdown extension

Scientists could use this data to determine the community transmission rate, which will advise if further lockdown is required.

FILE: Gauteng healthcare workers screening Alexandra residents for coronavirus (COVID-19) on 31 March 2020 following the roll out of massive community screenings and testing programmes by the provincial executive council. Picture: Ahmed Kajee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The latest data on COVID-19 infections to be released this week is expected to guide government as it faces the tough balancing act of how long to keep the country on lockdown.

Scientists say they could use this data to determine the community transmission rate during the home confinement period.

At least 2,272 people tested positive for COVID-19 so far. These patients were infected in the days before the lockdown.

Government’s top coronavirus adviser, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said on Monday the figures released over the next week would be crucial.

Karim said government’s next step to slow down the spread of the pandemic would be based on the community transmission rate.

“So, by 18 April, we will know if community transmission and whether our interpretation of community transmission has been kept low and if it’s accurate,” he said.

Karim said should the lockdown come to an end, a voluntary home confinement period would be recommended, especially for the elderly, at least until the end of September.

He said the lockdown couldn’t be ended abruptly and he advised government to plan for a systematic easing of the regulations at some point.

“We know that if we end the lockdown abruptly, we may run the risk of undoing all of the effort and the benefit we have achieved because then we will be putting high-risk and low-risk people to together travelling in the same buses, taxis, and trains,” Karim said.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.