Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize says the number of confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus now stands at 709.
Mkhize said the largest increases in the numbers emanate from Gauteng which saw 64 cases jump overnight, followed by the Western Cape at 61 cases and KwaZulu-Natal at 11 and the Free State with 15 new cases.
The minister said the rise in Free State cases is a concern because the cases emanate from a church service that was held in Bloemfontein in early March.
Five foreign nationals from the US and Israel had travelled to South Africa and attended a church convention at the Divine Restoration Church Ministries and interacted with 300 people.
Mkhize said most of the cases recorded in the Free State were from Mangaung and from people who had attended the church service. He has encouraged people who attended this service to come forward and get tested. He said the Red Cross and health officials were working on tracing individuals who had attended this church service.
He said the source of the virus has been individuals who had travelled from high-risk countries identified in Europe.
The plan is to decrease the movement of people, through the lockdown, and test individuals while also working from a list of contacts provided by people who have tested positive for the virus, the minister said.
Mkhize said on Tuesday that over 12 815 tests had been conducted, with the bulk in the private sector and 2000 from public laboratories.
He said the numbers of confirmed cases were expected to rise as more people get tested.
The minister said two patients had been admitted into ICU. There have still been no confirmed deaths emanating from infections, Mkhize said.
South African will go into lockdown from Thursday night following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Monday. Only essential services will be expected to operate. The SA National Defense Force will assist other emergency officials in enforcing the national lockdown.