The latest number of confirmed cases is more than 1 000. The country has also reported its first deaths – two in the Western Cape.
All provinces have been affected. Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN account for the bulk of the cases.
Gauteng has the highest number of confirmed cases.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has given members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) their marching orders hours before the country goes into lockdown.
"Go out and have the best of missions, this is a mercy mission, this is a life-restoration mission, this is a life-saving mission, this is a life-giving mission. Go out and save the lives of South Africans," he said.
Ramaphosa was addressing the troops at the Doornkop army base in Soweto on Thursday evening, calling on them to execute their mission with respect and responsibility.
On Monday, he announced the country would be under lockdown, a week after declaring a national state of disaster.
Ramaphosa, who was dressed in army fatigues, told the soldiers he had done so in a bid to show them they had the support of their commander-in-chief.
This as the government tries to turn the tide against the coronavirus which hit South Africa on 5 March.
There is no exact date for when schools are expected to reopen for the second term, according to the Department of Basic Education.
In a statement on Thursday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) are deliberating the issue and a date is only likely to be revealed after the lockdown period.
The department said, however, that it would be guided by the National Command Council, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, before confirming a date on the reopening.
"The Department of Basic Education is also finalising a standard operating procedure to provide guidance to schools and education offices on how to prepare for the opening of schools. The department is in discussion with the National Treasury and all our provinces on the provision of a minimum health package to schools," Motshekga said in the statement.
READ MORE | Date for the reopening of schools only likely to be finalised after the 21-day lockdown period
Well-known pastor Angus Buchan has tested positive for Covid-19 after coming into contact with infected persons at a church gathering in the Free State earlier this month.
On his Instagram page on Thursday, Buchan confirmed that he tested positive for the virus, but said he was not showing symptoms and was in good health.
“As per the regulations surrounding the virus, anyone that has been in contact with us needs to isolate themselves and, if they start displaying symptoms, they will need to get tested for the coronavirus,” Buchan added.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD
For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.
Positive cases worldwide are now more than 537 000, while deaths are more than 24 000.
Nine countries – US, China, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, the UK and Switzerland – all have more than 10 000 confirmed cases.
Italy and Spain have now surpassed China and has the most deaths, with 8 215 and 4365.
Covid -19 could lead to more than 80,000 deaths in the US and overwhelm hospital capacity nationally as soon as early April even if social distancing measures are respected, new research showed on Thursday.
The US death toll for the pandemic has already soared past 1 000, with 68 000 confirmed infections.
Forecasters at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington's School of Medicine analysed the latest Covid-19 data at a local, national and international level.
These include hospitalisation and mortality rates, as well as patient date in terms of age, gender and pre-existing health problems.
HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)
• Avoid contact with people who have respiratory infections.
• Maintain social distancing – stay at least one metre away from somebody who is coughing or sneezing.
• Practise frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as your hands touch many surfaces and could potentially transfer the virus.
• Practise respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Remember to dispose the tissue immediately after use.