PRETORIA, South Africa – A cumulative total of 545 476 confirmed Covid-19-related cases have been recorded in South Africa, with 7 292 new cases identified, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.

’’Regrettably, we report 305 new Covid-19-related deaths: 57 from the Eastern Cape, 136 from Gauteng, 76 from KwaZulu Natal, 29 from the Western Cape and seven from the Northern Cape. This brings the cumulative number of deaths to 9 909.“

South Africa recorded 345 Covid-19-related deaths on Tuesday, 414 on Wednesday and 306 yesterday.

The number of recoveries currently stands at 394 759, which translates to a recovery rate of 72%, said Mkhize. The total number of tests conducted to date is 3 183 658, with 33 851 being new tests.

Data supplied by the Department of Health

In the period March 1 to August 1, 2 726 599 laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2 have been conducted nationally, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in its weekly report on Friday.

Free State had the highest testing rate (482 per 100 000 persons) in week 31, and decreased testing rates were observed in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Free State (34.6%), North West (34.3%), Mpumalanga (33.6%) and KwaZulu-Natal (31.1%) had the highest percentage testing positive in week 31.

As of August 1, a total of 511 484 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases had been detected in South Africa. The number of new cases detected in week 31, 43 532, was lower than the number of new cases detected in week 30, 52 836.

For the past 36 years, the flu season started around mid-July in the country, but probably due to Covid-19 prevention measures, no influenza has been detected by three sentinel surveillance programmes.

According to an article in the July 2020 monthly communique published by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, after an initial outbreak of two strains of flu in the Western Cape early this year, only one case of flu has been detected in Gauteng in the week ending June 14.

Meanwhile, a Human Sciences Research Council and University of KwaZulu-Natal Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine national survey of 7 607 healthcare professionals, including nurses and medical practitioners, has found that the country’s front-line nurses are suffering psychological distress and a lack of confidence in their knowledge about Covid-19, with major concerns about infecting their families. The study was conducted between April and May.

It’s not only South Africa that has been hit by PPE scandals, a 38-year old South African, Nathan Engelbrecht, chief operating officer and co-founder of Ayanda Capital, is at the centre of a storm over a disastrous R6 billion contract to supply 43 million masks to UK government hospitals.

The UK government said the masks couldn’t be used because they didn’t fit properly. Fitted with ear-loop fastenings, they may not fit tightly enough to create a “seal” between the mask and the face, according to UK standards.

As of 11am on Friday, the coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people in Africa, but hopes that the pandemic may be peaking in some countries are mingled with fears of a second wave.

Nations across the continent have recorded 1 011 495 infections and at least 22 115 deaths, according to an AFP tally.