Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday morning the country had not reached its hospital capacity, and the surge in Covid-19 cases might end soon.
During a virtual meeting, Mkhize said the country had also not reached its capacity in field hospitals across the country.
He said: “We will continue to monitor this. Government has displayed its readiness to cope with the surge. There has also been an improvement in survival rate in intensive care units.”
Mkhize said despite the surge, the country had not seen a significant increase in deaths.
“While we are cautiously optimistic, it is still too early for us to make definite conclusions regarding the observed decline.
“We need to continue to track all the indicators, and ensure that our testing capacity reflects a realistic picture of our epidemiological status. We will only know for sure when there is a consistent decline over a period,” he said.
Mkhize said the national health council met a few days ago and agreed that all bodies of people labelled “sudden deaths” must have specimens taken before death certificates are issued.
He said in the past two months there had been a downward trend in Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape. He said the number of cases, deaths and patients admitted to hospital expected for the province “did not materialise”.
In the past three weeks, cases in the Eastern Cape were also slowing, Mkhize said.
He said from June 12, there had been a massive spike in Covid-19 cases in Gauteng which surpassed all other provinces.
However, Mkhize said there was now a trending decline in Gauteng, and the province had not reached the stage where hospitals and field hospitals had been filled.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but we haven’t got to the stage where we don’t have hospital space for patients.”
Free State has also shown an increase in numbers, but Mkhize said they were mostly worried about KwaZulu-Natal, which is showing a peaking trend.
“All other provinces have reached peak point except KwaZulu-Natal.”
Mkhize said the next two to three weeks were of utmost importance to confirm the downward trend.
“Our biggest challenge now is whether this will be sustained. It is possible that instead of cases going down, when we open more sectors of the economy, the surge can come back much higher than what we have seen.
“We don’t want the same situation as that experienced in the United States. If we don’t continue to contain it, it will get worse than what we are seeing now.”
Mkhize said the country “might be over the surge by the end of August”.