- As the country moves to Level 1 lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Covid-19 testing would increase.
- Ramaphosa said due to the decline in new infections and the reduced pressure on health facilities, there was sufficient capacity to expand the criteria for testing.
- Effective testing would help quickly identify and contain outbreaks before they spread further, he added.
As the country appears to be past the Covid-19 peak, testing for the coronavirus will be increased to identify and contain outbreaks to avoid a second wave of mass infections.
This according to President Cyril Ramaphosa who announced the country would be moving to Level 1 of the lockdown at midnight on Sunday as the rate of infections continued to decline.
"Two months ago, at the height of the storm, we were recording around 12 000 new cases a day. Now, we are on average recording less than 2 000 cases a day. We now have a recovery rate of 89%," Ramaphosa said.
"Even as restrictions have eased over the last month with our move to alert Level 2, there has been a gradual, but steady, decline in new infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
"Demand for hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen and other essential medical requirements have also reduced steadily."
He added the country had succeeded in overcoming the worst phase of the pandemic while protecting the capacity of its health system.
But the fight is not over.
Ramaphosa said the greatest challenge and most important task going forward was to ensure the country did not experience a new surge in Covid-19 cases.
"Some of them have even lifted most of the restrictions on economic and social activity.
"In many cases, the second wave has been more severe than the first. Several countries have had to re-impose a hard lockdown."
To this end, Ramaphosa said a decision was taken to focus on further reducing the transmission of the virus and preparing for a possible resurgence, which would include increased testing.
"Among the categories of people we will now be able to test are all those who are admitted to hospital, outpatients with Covid-19 symptoms, and individuals who had been in close contact with confirmed cases whether or not they themselves have symptoms."
Ramaphosa said alongside increased testing, the government would also improve contact tracing through the deployment of the Covid Alert South Africa mobile phone app and Covid Connect WhatsApp platform.
"Effective testing and contact tracing systems will allow us to quickly identify and contain outbreaks before they spread further.