116 and counting: Breaking down SA's confirmed coronavirus cases


The novel coronavirus is gaining momentum in South Africa where, by Wednesday, the health department reported 116 cases.

The spread of the virus happened over the course of less than two weeks. 

On 5 March, the first local case was confirmed. A man from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal, who had travelled to Italy in a group of 10, which included his wife, was South Africa's Patient Zero. 

Two days later, on 7 March, a woman from Gauteng, who was part of the Italy tour group, became the second person to test positive

The next day, Patient Zero's wife tested positive

By 9 March, seven people were infected. By 11 March - a week ago - the number stood at 13; the next day it increased to 16; by 13 March, it was 24; and on Saturday, it jumped to 38. 

On 14 March, 114 South Africans were repatriated back from Wuhan in China - the epicentre of the pandemic. After the groups' arrival at Polokwane airport, they were whisked off in four buses to the Ranch Resort to begin their 21 days of quarantine, along with crew and SA National Defence Force and police officials who assisted in the repatriation effort.

On Wednesday morning, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that 116 people were infected. 

READ| Coronavirus in SA: All the confirmed cases

The reaction to the spread of the novel coronavirus locally has been severe. 

Schools have been closed to prevent the spread of the virus among children, who are more vulnerable to the virus. 

Internationally and locally, a multitude of events - from concerts to sports events and church gatherings - have been either postponed or cancelled

While most local patients caught SARS-CoV-2 - as the new coronavirus strain has been named - while travelling internationally, a number of local transmissions have since been reported. This means the patient got the virus right here, in South Africa. 

Breaking down the numbers by province, on 18 March, it looks like this:

- Gauteng has 61 confirmed cases. Of these, eight are local transmissions. Out of all the patients, seven are aged 60 or above, placing them in a higher risk category because patients at an advanced age could have compromised immune systems. The same goes for young children. In this province, one patient is a 3-year-old boy, who was infected locally. 

- The Western Cape has 31 confirmed cases. Two of these were transmitted on local soil. Five patients are aged 60 or above, and two 3-year-olds and one 2-year-old have been infected. 

- KwaZulu-Natal, where the first infection was registered, had 19 cases by Wednesday of which three were local transmissions. One patient is 79 years old, while two boys, aged 5 and 3, were infected locally. 

- In Mpumalanga there are four cases, of which one is a local transmission. Among them is a 64-year-old man who travelled to Italy. By Wednesday, that country had recorded more than 31 500 cases and more than 2 500 deaths. 

- A single case of Covid-19 has been reported in Limpopo - a 29-year-old man who had travelled to France and the Netherlands. On Wednesday, the Curro Heuwelkruin private school in Polokwane issued a letter directing some of its Grade 10 pupils to self-quarantine because the mother of a pupil had been in close contact with the province's first Covid-19 patient. 

No other province has confirmed a positive diagnosis. 


Worldwide, by Wednesday, more than 202 000 cases of Covid-19 had been reported and more than 8 000 people had died.

On 11 March, the World Health Organisation announced that Covid-19 was a pandemic.

"This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus," said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing in Geneva.

"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," said Ghebreyesus, adding that the word "pandemic" should not be used lightly or carelessly.

"It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa invoked sweeping emergency powers as he announced a range of extraordinary interventions by his government to try and curb the spread of the virus.

Declaring the outbreak of Covid-19 a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act, he said South Africa has the "knowledge, means and resources" to defeat the virus.

To implement social distancing measures and help flatten the curve of the spread of the deadly virus within the country, the Presidency has prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people. Large-scale celebrations of national days have also been cancelled.

This led South Africans to invade supermarkets and shops in their droves to stock up on essentials such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

ALSO READ | Wipe privilege: The psychology behind toilet paper panic buying

To stay abreast of News24's rolling coverage on the Covid-19 outbreak, follow this link to our dedicated coronavirus site. 

Stay up to date and stay healthy. Subscribe to Health24’s Daily Dose newsletter for important updates on the spread of the coronavirus. Register and manage your newsletters in the new News24 app by clicking on the Profile tab

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 623 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 3413 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 714 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.