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South Africa ramps Coronavirus testing to near 10,000 daily as confirmed cases jump over 3,000

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South Africa reported a record number of new Covid-19 infections, as it steps up screening and testing, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Saturday night.

The tally now stands at 3034 cases, an additional 251 on the number recorded on Friday.

The previous record of new cases was 243, on March 27.

Two more deaths have been reported since Friday, taking the total number of fatalities to 52.

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Gauteng remains the province hardest hit, with 1101 cases, followed by Western Cape, which has 836, and Kwa Zulu Natal with 604.

The Eastern Cape has 270 cases, Free State 100, Limpopo 26, North West 24, Mpumalanga 25, Northern Cape 16, and 32 cases have yet to be allocated, said the Minister.

Covid-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease that has raced around the globe since it first emerged in China in late December; by Saturday it had sickened more than 2.29-million people and caused more than 157 000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

The numbers of confirmed cases in SA remain low relative to many hard-hit countries in Europe, and the US, but are to some extent a reflection of the extent of community testing, which only got underway in earnest shortly before Easter.

A total of 108 021 people have been tested for Covid-19 since the disease was first detected in SA in early March, he said.

The majority of tests were initially conducted in the private sector, but the state has rapidly scaled up testing capacity in the past month.

Mkhize said close to 900 000 people had been screened, and 11 000 referred for testing since the government began deploying field workers into communities shortly before Easter.

He said the government was making steady progress in expanding testing but needed to scale up further.

“Many more people need to be tested,” he said.