- Health minister Zweli Mkhize lit candles for those who have died as a result of Covid-19 this year.
- Mkhize was in KwaZulu-Natal with the province's premier and health MEC on New Years Eve for the candle lighting ceremony.
- At a candle lighting ceremony in Cape Town, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared 2020 as the year of the health worker.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize led a candle lighting ceremony in KwaZulu-Natal on New Year's Eve to pay tribute to the more than 28 000 people who have lost their lives to Covid-19 in 2020 as the daily new cases reach 18 000
Mkhize along with KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu lit candles at the King Edward Hospital hospital as a tribute, and also honoured healthcare workers. Mkhize announced that the country had breached the 18 000 mark in terms of daily infections and that, as of Thursday, 436 people had died from Covid-19, bringing the death toll to 28 469.
"Previously we warned that this second wave will dwarf the first wave, and indeed this is the case as we witness a steep climb in numbers of active cases. Despite performing of 55 000 tests in the past 24 hours, the positivity rate is 32.5% - we keep highlighting this point because this indicates that the virus is spreading so fast that it is outpacing our ability to detect it - even with good turnaround times," said Mkhize.
Of the more than 28 000 deaths, Mkhize said that 436 of those were public healthcare workers.
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"Today, in heeding the call of President Cyril Ramaphosa, we are here to remember our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers, our friends our colleagues and our loved ones who have been so cruelly taken away from us by Covid-19. Hundreds of people are dying everyday.
"By now, I am sure all of us know someone who has passed away from Covid-19. Today alone, 436 more Covid-19-related deaths have been reported. May the soul of the departed rest in eternal peace and may we all be comforted by the happy memories we have shared with those who have left us," he added.
The cumulative number of cases is at s 1 057 161 while deaths sit at 28 469 and recoveries are at 83% down 1% from Wednesday.
To date, 43 124 healthcare workers had been infected with the virus.
"Every time a healthcare worker becomes infected with Covid-19, we lose at least 10 days of labour [that is] so desperately needed during this time. We may lose these precious resources for longer if they become ill and need to be treated and isolated for longer. We may lose them forever if they succumb to Covid-19," said Mkhize.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa was leading a candle lighting ceremony at the Khayelitha District Hospital in Cape Town. It was also attended by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and his Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.
Ramaphosa went on to declare 2020 as the year of the health worker.
"I declare 2020 as the year of the health worker of our country who are the heroes and heroins of the struggle that South Africa has waged against Covid-19," he said.
"This virus continues to sow destruction in our land and you are there to protect our people," he told the country's healthcare workers.
"We are in awe, we bow our head, we tip our hats and we also bow our knees, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
In his closing remarks for 2020, the president thanked South Africans for the resilience and Ubuntu they had shown during the trying times this year