INFOGRAPHICS | Covid-19: The seven hardest-hit districts in SA and why lockdown can’t be lifted yet


As government consultations continue over the possibility of lowering lockdown levels at the end of May, early analysis by the Department of Health has revealed the seven hardest-hit districts likely to remain at high risk stages.  

Ekurhuleni metro in Gauteng, eThekwini metro and iLembe District in KwaZulu-Natal, Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay metros in the Eastern Cape as well as the Cape Town City metro and the Cape Winelands district in the Western Cape have the highest number of Covid-19 infections in the country.  

This is based on the average number of active cases between 2 and 8 May per district, which is then compared per 100 000 people of the population.  

The Garden Route (WC) and Chris Hani (EC) districts as well as the City of Johannesburg (GP) follow closely behind to make up the top 10 hotspots around the country.  

READ | Data lockdown: Tension simmers as questions are raised about access to Covid-19 information

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize explained to News24 that districts were being grouped by the average number of active cases per 100 000 people over a set time period, and categorised in intervals of between 0 and 0.5, 0.5 to 1, between 1 and 5, between 5 and 10 and above 10. 

This was shared in a slide given to News24 by Mkhize's office, which was used to build an infographic showing the levels per district: 


The level of average active cases per 100 000 per district, calculated from active cases between 2 and 8 May. Graphic  - Rudi Louw. (Full size)

The graphic shows that the City of Cape Town remains at the highest level by far, with average active cases topping 50 per 100 000 people between 2 and 8 May.  

The next highest district is iLembe district, north of eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal, with an average of 18 active cases per 100 000 people.  

Mkhize said the rates as calculated would inform the differentiated approach to lockdown, where areas with lower active cases would be placed at lower lockdown levels – but the correlation between what level of active cases per 100 000 people and the level of lockdown that will be implemented was not immediately clear. 

This graphical representation of the total number of tests done per 100 000 people in each province, as of 13 May, provides a clear indication that the Western Cape is testing at a higher level than other provinces, followed closely by Gauteng.  

coronavirus testing

The number of total tests, and tests per 100 000 of the population, by province. Testing data as reported on 13 May. Graphic - Rudi Louw

As of 17 May, a total 82 865 tests were conducted in the Western Cape, compared with 127 030 in Gauteng and 67 853 in KwaZulu-Natal.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that there would be extensive consultation with provincial stakeholders, with the aim of potentially easing lockdown to Level 3 as of the end of May.  

Mkhize told News24 on Saturday that South Africa was now aiming to do something no other country has done – lift lockdown while the rate of Covid-19 infections is still rising.  

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) gave us a list of six criteria [for lifting lockdown restrictions] and no part of the country can actually tick them all and say they are positive," he said.  

Covid-19 tracker: All the latest figures as the coronavirus spreads in SA

The WHO criteria for lifting lockdown are:

  • Evidence should show Covid-19 transmission is controlled, with strong surveillance in place and a consistent decline in number of positive cases
  • Public health and health system capacities need to be in place to identify, isolate, test, treat and quarantine every case and trace every contact
  • Outbreak risks need to be minimised in high-vulnerability settings, particularly in homes for the aged, mental health facilities and crowded residential areas
  • Workplace and school preventative measures are established, including physical distancing, hand washing facilities and respiratory etiquette (masks)
  • Importation risks must be managed
  • Communities must be fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the new norm (participation in the transition of lockdown)

On Sunday, South Africa reported its single highest rise in daily cases. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose by 1 160, to a total of 15 515, with a total of 7 006 recoveries.  

The death toll stood at 264 people, with the Western Cape reporting the highest number of deaths and cases so far. 


Total number of cases, deaths, recoveries and active cases as reported by the national Department of Health on 17 May 2020. Graphic - Rudi Louw

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