SA can only lift lockdown when rate of Covid-19 infections slow – Zweli Mkhize

By Amogelang Mbatha

(Bloomberg) – The rate of new coronavirus infections in South Africa has to slow before the country can lift a nationwide lockdown in line with World Health Organisation guidelines, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.

The government’s Covid-19 modelling team on Tuesday presented forecasts showing a peak in active cases in early July under the pessimistic scenario, or a peak in early August under the optimistic scenario. Mkhize made his comments during the briefing.

Active coronavirus cases could peak at 1.2 million in July or 1 million in early August, while the death toll could reach 40,000 to 45,000 by November, according to the modelling team.

South Africa, which has the highest number of confirmed infections on the continent, eased some restrictions on May 1, almost five weeks after imposing a stringent lockdown. Schools will be allowed to reopen gradually from June 1. The country’s case count increased by 767 to 17,200 on Tuesday, while the death toll rose by 26 to 312.

Short-term projections are updated weekly and long-term forecasts are due to be updated at the beginning of June.