The good news: South Africa has achieved a record 29 005 Covid-19 tests within a 24-period.
The bad news: The country also recorded its highest daily increase in infections on Wednesday.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize reported 1 673 new Covid-19 infections in his daily virus update on Wednesday night. This record peak of newly confirmed cases has seen the country’s Covid-19 tally surge past the 25 000-mark.
“The cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa is 25 937,” Mkhize said. However, the new daily record of tests done was buried in the statement.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) May 27, 2020
The previous record of tests done within a 24-hour cycle was on May 24, when just under 19 500 tests were carried out.
“A total of 634 996 tests have been conducted to date [in SA] with 29 005 tests recorded since the last report,” Mkhize said in his statement, which also highlighted that 18 065, or 62%, of the latest batch of tests were carried out in the public sector.
The new record comes as South Africa is facing a shortage of Covid-19 testing kits. Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, on Monday raised concerns about the escalating backlog of Covid-19 testing.
He appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Mkhize to address the testing backlog urgently. Mkhize, however, has pointed out that the delays are due to world-wide shortages of reagents and test kits.
According to Winde’s latest Covid-19 update, the Western Cape has carried out 133 489 tests. This represents around 21% of the total number of tests undertaken in the country.
According to Mkhize, Gauteng accounts for around 33% of Covid-19 tests carried out countrywide. This means that more than 200 000 people have been tested in South Africa’s economic hub and most populous province.
Of South Africa’s 25 937 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 13 451 are now being reported as “recoveries”. The Western Cape accounts for the large majority of this, 16 893 cases and 8 504 recoveries. Gauteng has the second highest number of cases overall (3 167, with 1 955 recoveries); however, it is closely followed by the Eastern Cape (3 047, with 1 491 recoveries).
Mkhize reported 28 further coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, taking the nationwide death toll to 552.
The Western Cape accounts for the most virus-related fatalities at 391; followed by the Eastern Cape at 70; and, KwaZulu-Natal with 49 deaths. Gauteng is the only other province with double-digit fatalities (at 31), while Mpumalanga is the only province not to have any reported Covid-19 deaths.
According to the Health Department’s breakdown of Covid-19 deaths, 53.3% are men. More than 56% of deaths are people over the age of 60, while youth (under the age of 19) account for three deaths.