The number of confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus cases in South Africa has climbed to 2,173, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Sunday (12 April).

This is an increase of 145 new cases from Saturday, with the country reporting a total of 25 deaths, unchanged from before, while 80,805 tests have been conducted so far.

Mkhize added that there has been an increase in tests conducted at public laboratories and of the 5,032 tests conducted in the past day, 3,192 were done in public laboratories.

The provincial breakdown for coronavirus cases in South Africa is detailed below:

  • Gauteng – 865
  • Western Cape – 587
  • KwaZulu-Natal – 443
  • Free State – 96
  • Eastern Cape – 88
  • Limpopo – 23
  • Mpumalanga – 21
  • North West – 19
  • Northern Cape – 16
  • Unallocated – 15

Globally, coronavirus cases moved beyond 1.8 million, with more than 113,000 reported deaths, and nearly 420,000 recoveries.

The US became the world’s epicenter for the coronavirus as deaths passed Italy, while the number of cases in Spain fell even as fatalities inched higher.

US deaths reached 20,600, while cases increased 5.6% in the past 24 hours to 514,415, according to data collected Saturday by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

The increase was below the average daily pace of 8.8% over the past week. Deaths nationwide rose by 10% as of midday Saturday, according to the data.

New York’s cases rose about 6% from the previous day, according to the data. The state also saw the largest number of deaths in the past 24 hours, with 783, Bloomberg reported.

Relaxing restrictions? 

The increase in cases come as South Africa faces an extended lockdown until the end of April.

While the country’s lockdown regulations have remained unchanged, reports on Sunday indicate that the national command council will discuss industry proposals to ease some of the lockdown restrictions, including lobbies from the tobacco and alcohol sectors, and a call to allow fast food shops to reopen.

“The results of these discussions are expected to be taken to the cabinet later in the week, where a raft of proposals that include a comprehensive financial package geared at scaling up the production of essential goods will be tabled,” the Sunday Times said.

A number of industry groups – including the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) have called for the relaxation of regulations to allow certain non-essential goods and services to resume operating.

“In the last 15 days, we have had news of many beer outlets shutting their doors with several people being retrenched. With an industry that employs close to 250,000 people, these are many lives that are now being placed at risk.

“Secondary industries are also impacted by the shutdown i.e. glass and bottle manufacturers, print and design companies, transportation, retailers, equipment manufacturers, electricians, plumbers, farmers and many more,” BASA said.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has also called on the government to allow certain business sectors to reopen after the lockdown extension.

The business body, which has a membership comprising approximately 20,000 small, medium and large enterprises, commended president Ramaphosa on his leadership and management of the current crisis.

The Sacci suggested “a staggered return to business, starting with industries which can demonstrate high levels of social distancing and health control, like the Fast Food Outlets (FFOs) industry”.

FFOs in South Africa currently employ more than 150,000 people. Many businesses are likely to close down and there will be major job losses as a result, said Sacci chief executive officer, Alan Mukoki.

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