Health minister Zweli Mkhize visits Clairwood Hospital in Durban. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DARREN STEWART
Health minister Zweli Mkhize visits Clairwood Hospital in Durban. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DARREN STEWART

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has pressed the panic button as SA recorded more than 14,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

This is the highest-ever single-day increase in cases. The previous highest total was the 13,944 recorded on July 24.

Mkhize said on Wednesday the spread of the virus in the second wave was “much faster” than the first wave. There are now 117,229 confirmed active cases across SA.

“Today, we report with concern that 14,046 Covid-19 cases have been identified since the last report at a positivity rate of 26%. The cumulative total of Covid-19 cases today is 954,258,” he said.

Mkhize also reported that 411 Covid-19-related deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, the second-highest daily death toll and only the third time the tally had passed the 400 mark.

Mkhize said the virus was spreading “exponentially”.

“Indeed, the rate of spread is much faster than the first wave and we will surpass the peak of the first wave in the coming days.

“We must warn South Africans that we will need to review the current restrictions and consider further measures to ensure that we curb this alarming rate of spread,” he said.

He said KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng made up 81% of the new cases recorded in 24 hours, with KZN accounting for 30%, 28% and 23% respectively.

“Therefore, it will be important for us to evaluate the situation in these provinces, identify hotspots in these areas (and in other provinces where they may be identified) and make recommendations based on these findings and the outcomes of what has been implemented in the hotspots that have been identified so far.

“We can never stress enough the need for citizens to take every precaution necessary as we celebrate the festive season and look for reprieve from a tough year.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 is unrelenting and we, therefore, cannot afford to be complacent at this stage,” he said.

Of the newly recorded deaths, 171 were in the Western Cape, 101 in the Eastern Cape, 90 in KwaZulu-Natal, 34 in Gauteng, and six each in the North West and Mpumalanga.

There have been 25,657 confirmed Covid-19 related deaths to date.

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