Following the recent surge in global Covid-19 cases, South Africa seems to be one of the worst-hit African countries. Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize announced that the nation recorded 21,832 new cases of Covid-19 and 844 deaths on Wednesday, 6th of January, 2021.
Of these 844 deaths, 452 were in Eastern Cape, 149 in Western Cape, 96 in Gauteng, 65 in KwaZulu-Natal, 46 in North West, 12 in Free State, 11 in Limpopo, 8 in Mpumalanga, and 5 in Northern Cape. This marks the deadliest 24-hour period for new Covid-19 infections and deaths in the nation yet. The previous highest number of deaths in a single day was 572 during July 2020. Currently, the total number of cases in South Africa is 1,170,590, and the recorded death toll stands at 31,809 people.
Mkhize, who described the Wednesday statistics as a ‘grim milestone’, said: “The 452 deaths reported from the Eastern Cape are as a result of data reconciliation dating between May and November 2020 – this includes analysis of community cases where post-mortem swabs were taken for Covid testing and analysis of clinical records where the diagnosis was unconfirmed at the time of demise.” The National Department of Health is engaging the province to investigate the details of the reporting backlog.
However, the country has recently been battling with an influx of immigrants from Zimbabwe. Due to the imminent strict lockdown measures, more people are struggling to evade Zimbabwean curfews and enter South Africa sooner. “It is clear a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. I have seen the pictures. People are trying to escape the Zimbabwean hard lockdown and the curfew there.”, Motsoaledi said.
The slow pace of clearing travelers and verifying their Covid-19 certificates by South African authorities has caused frustration among the Zimbabwean immigrants. According to local media reports, some travelers, including truck drivers, have been stuck for four days without food or shelter,
Government officials have also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to enforce higher restrictions to curb South Africa’s rising infection rate. The nation is currently at a level 3 national lockdown. Level 4, last enforced during May 2020, banned travel between provinces, except for the transportation of goods. National borders were also closed to international travel except to allow the repatriation of South African nationals. Ramaphosa hosted a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council on Wednesday, January 6, to determine the government’s next course of action. No announcements have yet been made.