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Source: South Africa News Agency

President Cyril Ramaphosa has cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be over soon as the death toll reached 18 309 after 158 more people succumbed to the respiratory disease on Thursday.

Of the latest deaths, 70 are from Gauteng, 38 from KwaZulu-Natal, 22 from the Eastern Cape, 19 from the Free State, five from Limpopo and four from the Western Cape, the Health Ministry announced.

“Globally, the number of new COVID cases per day is currently at its highest level since the start of the pandemic,” he said.

The President said this while presenting a new economic plan to stabilise the fiscus that has been ravaged by the pandemic during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in Parliament on Thursday.

“The pandemic continues to cause severe damage to the global economy, affecting trade, investment, production, international travel and global supply and demand,” he said, adding that no country has been spared.

Coronavirus has caused great hardship and suffering in South Africa.

“In the 220 days since our first recorded case, more than 18 000 people are confirmed to have died from COVID-19,” he said, while describing the loss of life as not only devastating to the families but to the nation as well. 

Meanwhile, the cumulative number of detected COVID-19 cases now stands at 698 184 after 1 770 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus. 

Of these, 90% of the infected patients have recovered to date.

“While the national lockdown in April had a significant impact on economic activity, the economic consequences of an uncontrolled surge would have been far worse. Due to the dedication and sacrifices of millions of South Africans, we were able to limit the impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods.”

The average number of daily cases has remained relatively stable at less than 2 000 cases for the last month and a half even under lockdown level 1.

“But it is far too soon to declare victory,” he stressed.

According to President Ramaphosa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised the country that is now entering a phase that requires high vigilance and heightened readiness to avoid a resurgence of cases.

“Rather than easing our prevention efforts – including social distancing and observing health protocols – we must intensify them further to reduce new cases to less than 1 000 a day.”

He warned that the Coronavirus would remain part of everyone’s life for some time to come.

The President said the health system must also remain adequately staffed, equipped and financed to ensure government saves lives.

“We must rebuild, repair and restore our country, not after COVID, but in the midst of COVID.”

According to the WHO, there have been 38 394 169 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1 089 047 deaths globally. –

MIL OSI Africa