Razina Munshi Columnist
A worker of the hospitality industry carries a mock coffin outside a closed bar in Cape Town during a protest against lockdown regulations and job losses. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
A worker of the hospitality industry carries a mock coffin outside a closed bar in Cape Town during a protest against lockdown regulations and job losses. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

On July 24, a little more than two weeks ago, SA recorded 13,944 new daily Covid-19 infections. This Sunday night, that figure fell to less than half that: 6,670.

Weekly stats show a similar trend. Average daily infections recorded between July 10 and 16 come in at 12,269, making it the worst week in SA’s epidemic. Between August 7 and today, average daily positive cases fell to 7,225.

Sure, the mood in SA has probably never been gloomier. But, on the Covid front at least, there is reason for optimism.

Provincial breakdowns show that the Eastern Cape and Gauteng may have joined the Western Cape in seeing their worst.

SA’s positivity rate has dipped slightly from almost 27% to 24%, though it still means that for every four people tested, one is positive.

More significantly, the rate at which cases are doubling has dropped from every 14 days to 37 days.

Unfortunately, mortality rates are still high. And SA marked 10,000 Covid-19 deaths on the weekend. But scientists say deaths lag new infections by about three weeks, so even this metric should begin to drop.

Testing data is also less worthy of celebration. An average of 46,336 people were tested daily between July 10 and 16. The number of tests that SA has conducted has dropped consistently since then, and has fallen to a daily average of 33,592 this week.

What does this mean for South Africans?

These early signals of the easing of case numbers only mean that SA is beginning to get to grips with the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. This outbreak is far from over. And it is far too early to hope for a speedy return to our old way of life.

What happens next really depends on how you and I react to these early hopeful signals.

What it does mean, however, is that the government is likely to relax lockdown rules. And that will open the way for South Africans to rebuild what is left of their businesses, jobs and industries. That recovery is set to take a lot more grit. Brace yourself.

* Munshi is News & Fox editor of the FM​

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