Coronavirus update: SA's death toll rises to 24, as number of recoveries rises to 410

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Twenty-four people have died as a result of Covid-19, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday.

During a briefing to the nation following a meeting with CEOs from private healthcare, Mkhize said that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases now stood at 2003.

He also said 73 028 tests have been conducted and 410 people have recovered.

'Shadow over the world'

The number of deaths increased from the initial number President Cyril Ramaphosa released while speaking during a virtual Good Friday liturgy led by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba. He initially said 20 people had died, but Mkhize revised that number upward an hour later.

"As we commemorate Easter this year, a shadow hangs over our world. We are in the grip of a pandemic, the likes of which we have not seen for over a hundred years," Ramaphosa said during the virtual address, which came from the comfort of his Johannesburg home.

"The coronavirus continues to spread, leaving devastation in its wake. More than a million people are infected. Over 90 000 have lost their lives."

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On Thursday night, Ramaphosa announced that the lockdown would be extended until the end of the month. The president reiterated again on Friday that the move was necessary to stem the spread of the pandemic. He added that since the lockdown had begun, the number of infections had slowed down.

"The coronavirus pandemic is a heavy cross being carried on the shoulders of all of humankind. Rich and poor, young and old, black and white, men and women suffer under its weight.

"But the message of Easter is also one of hope, of recovery, of triumph and of rebirth. We have the utmost confidence that the measures we have taken, of declaring a national state of disaster and of imposing a lockdown, have been correct and absolutely necessary."

He thanked the religious community for the role it has played so far during the crisis.

"It has not been easy. Worshiping in congregation is a source of strength and comfort to many. It has been hard for those who have lost loved ones to be unable to attend their burials. Couples wishing to marry have had to postpone their plans. But you have endured with patience.

"This is a time of great trial for our country. We will at times find ourselves and our very faith sorely tested. Yet we know that the harshest of tests pushes us to persevere and to prevail. Working together, side by side, we will weather this storm and we shall overcome. Humanity will rise again."

READ: Lockdown has worked says Ramaphosa as NICD head warns of evolving epidemic

The president called on all South Africans to try and contribute to the Solidarity Fund to ensure the country's economy survives.

"We have to expend our every effort and energy to ensure that this period of hardship does not leave our economy in ruins. We have to give support to those who need our help in any way we can.

"I call upon each of you to make a donation, no matter how small, to the Solidarity Fund that was established to combat the coronavirus pandemic. I call upon you to continue to help your friends, your neighbours and those whom you do not even know through the acts of kindness and charity you perform each day."

On Thursday night, Ramaphosa announced that he, his Cabinet, deputy ministers and premiers would take a one-third cut in their salaries for the next three months, which would be donated to the Solidarity Fund.

The fund has so far raised around R2.2 billion, with half of that already allocated to buying sterile gloves, face shields, surgical masks, test kits and ventilators, he said.

 - Compiled by Vanessa Banton

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