SA has recorded its first two deaths due to Covid-19, less than 24 hours after the country went into lockdown, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday.

Mkhize said the two deaths occurred in the Western Cape, one in a private hospital and the other in a public hospital.

The minister said more details would be provided later in the day when the latest confirmed Covid-19 cases will be announced.

He said the number has increased from Thursday’s 927 cases and there were now more than 1,000 cases.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said the two who had died were a 28-year-old woman and a 48-year-old woman. Both died on Friday morning. 

The 48-year-old woman’s condition worsened while she was in ICU, while the other woman was admitted to hospital on Thursday and received emergency healthcare.

“The clinical picture is consistent with Covid-19 but we are awaiting the test results to confirm this,” Winde said.  

He sent condolences to the respective families and loved ones of the women. He asked all residents to join him at midday on Friday for a moment of silence.

“As we all strive to stop its spread, by each making the decision to stay at home until it becomes absolutely necessary to pop out for absolute essentials, let’s have in our minds the lives we will each save if we all work together,” Winde said. 

Covid-19 has raced around the world since it emerged in China three months ago, battering financial markets, disrupting trade and travel, and prompting a growing number of countries to impose tight restrictions to try to slow transmission.

The three-week lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night is intended to slow local transmission of the virus by limiting contact between people as much as possible, with the focus on ending the mingling of large groups of people.

The lockdown took effect at midnight on Thursday and imposes tight restrictions on the movement of people, who are expected to stay at home except for shopping for essentials such as food and medicines, seeking health care or collecting social grants.

Essential workers, including people who work in healthcare, emergency services, the police, army and in the production and distribution of vital supplies such as food and pharmaceuticals, are exempted from these rules.