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SA Reports 897 New Cases, Mkhize Addresses Variant Concerns

The Department of Health have confirmed that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases identified in South Africa is 1 584 961.

Testing Data
The number of tests conducted to date is 10 715 773. Of these 16 752 tests were conducted since the last report.

Deaths and Recoveries
Today, 35 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 2, Free State 6, Gauteng 7, Kwa-Zulu Natal 16, Limpopo 0, Mpumalanga 1, North West 0, Northern Cape 2 and Western Cape 1, which brings the total to 54 452 deaths.

Vaccination Rollout
The number of Health Care Workers Vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol to date is 329 098.

Concerns Regarding the B.1.617 Variant Circulating in India (and Other Variants)
We have noted the concerns raised both directly with us and on social media regarding possible importation of the B.1.617 variant circulating in India. This is appreciated with the context of knowing that there are several variants of concern (VOC’s) circulating around the world.

We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19.

We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment.

We have not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa, however, we have consulted members of the the genomics team who have informed us that they they have intensified their  surveillance not only to ensure that variant can be detected quickly but also to understand what the implications are for us in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa.

This work is ongoing and we commit to continue to be guided by science.

Meanwhile, we have also consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise us on the approach to management of travelers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern.

Their advise will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce these determinations in due course.

For now we ask for calm to prevail as we continue to adhere to the health protocols, tighten containment measures at our ports of entry and keep a balance as we maintain economic activity.