South Africa’s COVID-19 cases are on a sharp and steady increase, with 6,130 new cases reported on Monday, bringing the total number to 144,264.

“The numbers are picking up and the surge is on the way. Particularly in Gauteng, the numbers are locking up faster than anticipated,” said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“Western Cape started surging numbers very quickly. Western Cape in June went up by 40,000 people, but in Gauteng as of last night we are close to 3,000 per day.”

A further 73 COVID-19 related deaths were reported yesterday, bringing the total to 2,529: 1 was from Mpumalanga, 5 from Limpopo, 2 from North West, 6 from Gauteng, 10 from the Eastern Cape, 6 from KwaZulu-Natal and 43 from the Western Cape.

With the rapid increase in infections posing a threat of overwhelming health services, Mkhize pleaded with citizens to observe health protocols and maintain social distancing.

“The problem is too many people getting sick at the same time. We want to plead to people to use the masks, hand washing, social distancing.

“During the month of July we are going to see larger numbers getting infected, going into August. We are hoping to manage the situation during this time,” said the Minister.

While the numbers continue to surge, Mkhize said no decision has been taken to have another lockdown.

“There has not been any decision taken to have another lockdown and certainly the National Coronavirus Command Council does not take lightly a decision of that nature.

“There may be a need in some areas for restrictions. It may not be national but localised. But no such decision has been taken as yet,” he said.

Noting the challenges of staffing and capacity in the Eastern Cape, the Health Department has deployed officials to the province to boost capacity.

“Eastern Cape has a number of challenges, part of it is to strengthen their management capacity. We have deployed officials to assist. I have seen improvements in the past six weeks. We do know there are challenges of staffing.

“We’ve sent a number of people to the Eastern Cape. We are sending reinforcements to the province and keep going there to inspect the progress. We are seeing changes and are monitoring the situation,” said the Minister.