Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 106,108 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 4,518 cases from 101,590 cases reported on Monday, while a record 24-hour increase of 4,966 infections was reported on Saturday.

The minister announced 111 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total up to 2,102, and a mortality rate of 2.0%, while recoveries increased to 55,045, which translates to a recovery rate of 51.9%.

There are 48,961 active cases.

A total of 1.38 million tests have been conducted to date, with 29,596 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.

Globally, since 31 December 2019 and as of 23 June 2020, 9.2 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including in excess of 475,000 deaths, and nearly 5 million recoveries.

South Africa will begin a coronavirus vaccine trial on Wednesday, the first such test on the continent, with its 2,000 volunteers planned to include some living with HIV, Bloomberg reported.

The trial will begin at three sites in the country’s most populated province, Gauteng, and include 50 volunteers who have HIV, said study leader Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, in a briefing with reporters.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca, is already undergoing human tests in the UK with separate studies slated to begin in Brazil and the US.

Avoiding ‘Black October’

South Africa has not yet returned to ‘normal’ as it is not yet 100% ready for the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Speaking in a virtual parliamentary briefing on Tuesday (23 June), Dlamini-Zuma explained that government has ‘not rushed’ to lift the country’s coronavirus lockdown over fears of a surge in cases.

“What the government has now done is to make sure that as we ease the lockdown, we must not ease it in a rushed manner because we will get a surge that we may not be able to deal with.

“So we have had to open up slowly. Why? Because on the one hand, we have to save lives. We would like to have as few people as possible that we can…die from this. We don’t want to have massive deaths.

“This country during the Spanish flu lost more than 300,000 people, almost in six weeks around ‘Black October’ and we don’t want that situation. So we have to balance saving lives but at the same time, we have to balance livelihoods.

“That’s why we are gradually opening up the economy and matching that with the readiness of the health services.”

Dlamini-Zuma added that level 3 of the lockdown has ‘pretty much opened up most of the economy’ and that the country will now move to an ádvanced level 3′ where even more businesses will be allowed to reopen.

However, she noted that country will still need to stick to strict health protocols so as to minimise the spread of the virus.

She said that this will include a continued ban on inter-provincial travel – except in limited circumstances – as well as strict rules around gatherings such as funerals.

Dlamini-Zuma said that the government was listening to various stakeholders and would adapt the country’s regulations as time goes on.

Read: South Africa starts first Covid-19 vaccine trial