01 January 2021
Pretoria – South Africa reached the first ever record of infections since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020 with the number of positive cases having breached the 18,000 mark in a single day, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday evening.
Mkhize was speaking at the King Edward Hospital in Durban where a commemoration ceremony was being held in honor of thousands of frontline health personnel who succumbed to Covid- 19 while in their lines of duty since it first broke out in SA in March. The event was attended by President Ramaphosa.
“South Africa has recorded 18,000 positive coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, setting a record high on the final day of 2020”.
“For the first time in the history of the pandemic in South Africa, we have reached the 18,000 mark for new daily cases and have reached a cumulative total 1,057,161 cases.”
“More than 55,000 Covid-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours and 2020 was drawing to an end with a total of 28,469 Covid-19-related fatalities”, Mkhize said.
Mkhize announced that of these casualties, 436 were public health care workers. Coincidentally, this was also the exact number of Covid-19 deaths reported across the country on this day.
As the country sees a second wave of Covid-19 infections, Mkhize said all provinces had reported an increase in the numbers of health care workers who were infected with the virus.
“The biggest increase coming from this province, KwaZulu-Natal, with 687 new cases”.
Breaking down the numbers, Mkhize said, “Of the more than 1 million Covid-19 cases recorded to date, 43,124 were accounted for by health care workers who bravely fought the battle from the front lines”.
Meanwhile, at the same function President Cyril Ramaphosa lit a candle to honour frontline health care workers in SA, many of whom have succumbed to Covid-19, who described them as “heroes and heroines fighting the pandemic in South Africa.
Ramaphosa was joined by the Western Cape premier Alan Winde, religious leaders and medical personnel in the symbolic act to commemorate those who had succumbed to the virus and honor health care workers whom he described as the “heroes and heroines” fighting the pandemic in SA.
Ramaphosa said, “2020 has been a year from hell. It has been the most difficult year for all of us in SA , we thank those who were willing to sacrifice everything so they can save the lives of many other people. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We could never thank you enough”.
Ramaphosa emphasized that the idea to light a candle came from South Africans, via many platforms including social media. He said many would light candles around the country, in their homes at midnight, as a symbol of respect and mourning for those who had departed, but also as a symbol of hope for the future.