COVID-19 Update

31 March 2020

As at today, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 1353. This is an increase of 46 from the previously reported cases.

The provincial breakdown is as follows:

Province Number of  cases
Gauteng 633
Western Cape 325
KwaZulu-Natal 179
Free State 74
North West 8
Mpumalanga 12
Limpopo 14
Eastern Cape 12
Northern Cape 6
Unallocated 90

Report of Two More Deaths

It is with sadness that we announce that two more deaths.

– A 79 year old male from Gauteng Province, who presented with respiratory distress
– A 46 year old female from KwaZulu-Natal, who had an underlying condition of hypertension
chronic asthma and at the time of admission, presented with an acute asthmatic attack

Therefore, to date, this brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to five. We convey our
sincere condolences to the loved ones of these departed citizens.

Positive Cases on MSC Cruise
We have previously received reports of two confirmed COVID-19 cases that were on the MSC Cruise.
These cases are from KZN and Free State. We want to make this very important announcement to the
public:
In relation to the MSC ORCHESTRA Cruise Liner that left Durban on 28th February
2020 to the Portuguese Island and returned on the 2nd March 2020;
And in relation to the second cruise with the same vessel on the 13th March 2020 and returning on
the 16th March 2020;
IF YOU WERE PART OF THESE CRUISES, PLEASE KNOW THAT YOU ARE A
CONTACT AND WE ARE LOOKING FOR YOU. Please make contact with the
Departments of Health in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.

The Queen Mary 2

On 27 March 2020 a cruise ship, The Queen Mary 2, docked in the outer anchorage of the Durban port
of entry after being denied entry into the port. This was due to the fact that a number of
passengers on board that ship had been reported to be exhibiting flu like symptoms. The ship had
departed Fremantle, Australia, on 16 March 2020.

All the passengers on board the ship are not South African however there were six South African
crew members working on the ship

A total of 26 people were tested for COVID-19 and all tested negative.

Today the ship was allowed to enter the dock to permit the the South African crew members to
disembark the ship and for the ship itself to take on fuel, water and supplies. No
foreign nationals were allowed to disembark. The ship will henceforth depart for its destination

The six South African crew members have now been transported to a quarantine facility
in in Durban.

Deployment of Community Health Care Workers as announced by President Ramaphosa

Fellow South Africans, as the Honourable President announced yesterday, 10 000 Community Health
Care Workers will be deployed across the country to conduct door to door screening in our most
vulnerable communities. I must emphasize that they will be conducting screening and not tests: the
field workers will not conduct any tests but will refer any persons suspected of having Coronavirus
to the nearest CHC, clinic or hospital. I also want to emphasize that, at this stage, only PCR
tests will be conducted at health care facilities.

We are exploring the use of rapid antibody tests and Gene Xpert tests in the future when we have to
process high numbers. The Ministerial Advisory Committee and the South African Health Products
Authority (SAHPRA) are working hard to investigate all options and come to a consensus.

The deployment will be a phased, targeted approach: today 5400 field workers have already been
mobilized and a dry run was done today at Alexandra by Gauteng Department of Health. The
pilot was planned to do 10 households per hour- we will look at the report tomorrow to
determine how effective this was and shape future deployment.

Other areas to be targeted at this stage are Diepsloot and Khayelitsha and by Friday 3 April we
will have extended to other high density areas of concern.

We are redeploying our own CHW’s from national and provinces and we are very grateful to donor
organizations, such as PEPFAR, who will partner with us to ensure that we are able to boost numbers
and double what we have already fielded.

Mobile testing units will be rolled out across the country and I look forward to launching some of
these in the Free State on Thursday.

We also wish to reassure South Africans that the field workers, frontline workers and all workers
coming into contact with COVID-19 positive patients and other infectious diseases will be provided
with adequate personal protective equipment and no worker will be fielded without the necessary
protection. Although we know there is a global crisis of PPE shortage, we have been very hard at
work as a department and as a global community, partnering with business, to secure the
availability of PPE’s during this time of need. We have heard the concerns of our health
care workers and engaged Unions on this matter. We wish to reassure our valued health
professionals that their safety is in the forefront of our agenda as we cannot afford to lose one
health care worker to COVID-19 or any disease for that matter.

Flattening the Curve

Looking at the trend we are seeing of the day to day new infections we are cautiously optimistic
that we may not see the numbers rising as high as we had initially projected. We should, however,
bear in mind that we are approaching Winter which could change the dynamics entirely. Be that as it
may, it is clear from looking at other successful countries that we, As South Africa, can make a
real impact and flatten the curve if we

continue to observe the regulations that have been set out by government. Therefore I would like to
encourage South African to continue to stay at home, observe good hygienic practice and work
together with government- this way we have a real chance of containing the spread of COVID-19.

Dr Zwelini Mkhize
Minister of Health

2020-04-02T08:35:59+00:00March 31st, 2020|