South Africa again leads on the African continent, recording the highest number of Covid-19 cases at 5,350 an increase of 354 cases from Tuesday, according to the health department’s figures on Wednesday.

Egypt follows closely with 5,268 worldodometer figures show, although that country has recorded more than three times as many deaths at 380, compared to 103 in South Africa.

“This is the highest number of cases in a 24-hour cycle recorded to date and represents a 73% increase relative to the day before,” the health department said in a statement. 

Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

However, the department cautioned that these figures should be read in conjunction with a substantial increase in the number of tests within the same 24-hour period. 

“The total number of tests conducted to date is 197,127, of which 11,630 were done in the last 24 hours. This is the highest number of tests done in a 24-hour period, representing a 66% percent increase relative to the previous day’s tally. 

“Additionally we have also recorded the highest Covid-19 positive result yield from a 24-hour cycle of testing at 3%.”

At provincial level, the Western Cape still has the highest number of Covid-19 cases at 2,135 followed by Gauteng with 1,408, KwaZulu-Natal with 956, the Eastern Cape with 630 cases and Free State at 113.

All other provinces still have fewer than 50 cases with no new deaths reported in any of them. Free State has also not recorded any deaths, the statement said.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize Picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

“Regrettably, we report a further 10 deaths today from Gauteng (3), Western Cape (4), KwaZulu-Natal (2) and Eastern Cape (1). This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 103.” 

The department also said that one of the women who had died in the Western Cape was a registered nurse and one of its employees. However, her death was recorded as a community transmission and did not occur within a health facility, it said.

“We convey our condolences to the families of the deceased and appreciate the health workers who treated the deceased patients,”  it said. 

But the department has also said that trends in the Western Cape were cause for concern, with a double-digit increase in its infections within a day (from 133 on Tuesday to 264 on Wednesday), and with the lowest number of tests compared to other provinces.

FILE PHOTO: A Covid-19 vaccine will not be available for widespread use for about 18 months, the boss of one of the UK’s biggest drug companies warned on Wednesday. Picture: Reuters

“In the past 24 hours the Western Cape contributed to 75% of the total new cases nationally, while only contributing 30% of total tests over the same period.

“These concerning trends have prompted us to plan for additional support to be deployed to the province to help contain the spread of Covid-19. 

“The province has been asked to recruit additional personnel and 30 Cuban doctors will also be sent to reinforce the human resource capacity,” the department said.