covid-19 south africa latest update
South Africa's latest Covid-19 update. Photo: SANews

South Africa’s recovery rate has now jumped to 88.9% after 573 003 patients recuperated from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, novel Coronavirus cases have hit 644 438 after 2 007 infections were identified on Thursday, while the death toll stands at 15 265.

Of the latest 97 fatalities, 26 are from Mpumalanga, 21 from Gauteng, 17 from KwaZulu-Natal, 15 from the North West, seven from the Eastern Cape, six from the Western Cape, four from Free State and one from Limpopo.

According to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, 3 863 453 tests have been conducted to date, 20 555 of which were performed in the last 24 hours.

A Johannesburg-based General Practitioner (GP), Dr Karin van der Merwe, said it was a great relief to them that the COVID-19 case numbers were decreasing.

“It is also comforting that lockdown restrictions are being eased. One of the toughest parts of lockdown has been the prohibition on visiting family members,” said van der Merwe.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given citizens the green light to visit family and friends under lockdown level 2, although only 10 people may gather.

“The reality is that many South Africans have already been visiting their families and this will become more common as restrictions are rolled back. Keeping elderly parents completely isolated from their adult children could be perceived as cruel and could lead to mental health issues,” Van der Merwe said.

The GP took part in the Health Department’s #ListenToTheDoctor segment this week.

Van der Merwe said while it may be tempting to go back to completely relaxed socialising, she has urged people to remain cautious to avoid the second wave of infections.

“So when you see your family, it’s still not advised that you hug and kiss.

“If children are involved, warn them in advance that they will not be allowed to hug their grandparents. We are hopeful that this will eventually change but for now, we must keep our distance.”

Ideally, a distance of at least one metre should be maintained at all times.

“Make sanitising hands upon entering your house a routine for all visitors. Try to visit in a well-ventilated area – outside areas are ideal. A picnic is a fairly safe option, especially if each family stays on their own picnic blanket.”

She urged those preparing food to practice good hygiene and for everyone to wash their hands before a meal.

Van der Merwe said there should be a sanitiser on the table for spraying hands when using communal items such as condiments and serving utensils.

“Keep visits relatively short,” she said.

She encouraged people to not drop their guard and keep the number of guests to a minimum.

“This all seems rather extreme but the safer we can make our level 2 meetings, the less likely a second surge of COVID-19 will be.”

Globally, there have been 27 738 179 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 899 916 deaths reported to the World Health Organisation. –