The number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in South Africa has risen to 1 380.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed there were 27 new cases during a briefing on Wednesday evening.
Gauteng is leading the pack with 645 cases followed by the Western Cape (326), KwaZulu-Natal (186), the Free State (76), North West (9), Northern Cape (7), Eastern Cape (15), Mpumalanga (12), and 14 in Limpopo.
Mkhize said 44 220 people have been tested, adding the majority were tested at private laboratories.
“Even though the number seems high, it is very low compared to the number of challenges faced by South Africa.”
He raised concerns about the upcoming winter, saying some people might not know the difference between a common cold and Covid-19 symptoms.
Mkhize described the low number of infections as the “calm before the devastating storm” ahead of the upcoming flu season.
“This will flood our hospitals and clinics and create a fertile ground for the coronavirus to spread or to be masked in its presentation. This means with this small growth in numbers we may be experiencing the calm before the devastating storm.
“We need to be aware that there may not be many further warnings before the pounding descends…”
He added 67 mobile sampling and testing vehicles, which are equipped with laboratory equipment, would be dispatched to multiple provinces to undertake proactive testing to curb the pandemic from spreading further, especially in vulnerable areas.
Mkhize said the current testing capacity had been pushed to 5 000 tests in 24 hours.
Mobile laboratories are expected to increase the testing capacity to 30 000 tests in 24 hours.
“They will be used for rapid tests kits whenever they become available. They will be focusing on people tested in communities.”
Mkhize said case identification needed to be undertaken, and called on each province to start with its own strategies.
“About 993 priority wards have been identified that we need to focus on. That identification will be integrated by MECs in their hotspots of people who have been tested and their contacts. If we are focused, we can defeat Covid-19. There is a slow reduction of increase [in cases of Covid-19].
“We have now closed borders. The large numbers of infections were driven by people from countries infected. The lockdown has reduced the spread of the virus through large gatherings and overcrowded transport routes,” he added.
Mkhize called on the nation to remain alert and be more vigilant than ever before.
“Internal transmission has started and will have a tendency to spread silently. People with mild symptoms in poor areas may not seek assistance immediately.
“We need to tests hundreds of thousands of our population. People with access to private doctors have largely been tested.”
He said the current lockdown might leave people with limited access to public hospitals especially in poor communities because of transportation difficulties.
However, Mkhize added ending the lockdown would have rebounding effects on the country.