Govt to launch Covid-19 survey as doubts over infection rate persist

Govt to launch Covid-19 survey as doubts over infection rate persist

The Department of Health will ramp up Covid-19 screening and testing in the coming weeks as the country moves to further contain infections. 

Cyril Ramaphosa level 1

This comes as South Africa prepares to move to level 1 of the lockdown. 

On Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced eased lockdown restrictions due to the lower rate of Covid-19 infections over the past few weeks. 

Ramaphosa said the nationwide survey would use antibody tests, which detect people who have had the coronavirus regardless of whether their infection is active at the time, or if they ever showed symptoms of Covid-19. 

“We will be undertaking a nationwide survey to access the actual levels of infection within society. This survey known as a Seroprevalence survey uses antibody tests to see if a person has been exposed to the coronavirus.  

"A nationwide study will allow scientists to estimate the extent of asymptomatic infections and immunity within the population, as well as better under the transmission patterns of the virus," Ramaphosa explained.

It’s not yet clear what the scope of the study will be. 

“We continue to maintain our healthcare capacity to ensure that we are able to manage any possible outbreaks of infections effectively and to ensure that everybody receives the care that they need,” Ramaphosa said from the Union Buildings.  


Ramaphosa announces move to level 1

The move will take effect from midnight on Sunday. Ramaphosa addressed the nation from the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday evening. As expected, Ramaphosa announced the easing of restrictions due to the lower rate of Covid-19 infections over the past few weeks.

In addition to the survey, health authorities plan to test three new groups of people, including everyone admitted to hospital, any outpatient at a hospital who showed symptoms of Covid-19 and people who have been in close contact with others confirmed to have the coronavirus. 

Close to 4 million tests have been conducted since March.  

The latest stats show 1923 newly identified cases, bringing the cumulative number of infections to 653 444. 

In the past 24-hour cycle, 64 more people have succumbed to Covid-19 bringing the tally of fatalities up to 15 705. 

“Two months ago, at the height of the storm we were recording around 12 000 new cases a day. It seemed quite alarming and it was. Now we are on average recording less than 2000 cases a day. We now have a recovery rate of 89% which could go possibly to 98% in time,” Ramaphosa said. 

“Even as restrictions have eased over the last month with our move to alert level 2 there has been a gradual but steady decline in new infections, hospitalisations and deaths.” 

Ramaphosa added the worst has passed but warned of a second wave if restrictions not adhered to. 

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