The Western Cape government is advertising for 5 272 health worker posts – just over 4 000 of them for doctors – in preparation for a flood of Covid-19 cases.

The province has opened additional field hospitals – including one at the Cape Town International Convention Centre near the Waterfront, and another in Khayelitsha.

Premier Alan Winde said yesterday 1 082 infected people were in hospital, with 226 of them in intensive or high care units.

By lunchtime yesterday, the Western Cape had 11 071 active Covid-19 cases, with 29 136 confirmed cases and 17 366 recoveries. 699 people have died from Covid-19 in the province so far.

Nationally, positive cases rose by 2 539 to 45 973 (with 24 258 recoveries), and 44 deaths brought the toll to 952. Of the 44, 25 were in the Western Cape, 6 in KZN, 7 in Gauteng and 6 in the Eastern Cape.

South Africa has so far processed 850 871 tests.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa’s mortality rate remained at 2%, well below the global average of 6%, but he warned: ‘We are still facing the storm.’

Meanwhile, scientists have warned that mounting human encroachment on the natural world is creating ‘a perfect storm’ for diseases from wildlife to spill over into humans and spread quickly around the world.

BBC science correspondent Victoria Gill reported that global health experts had developed a pattern-recognition system to predict which wildlife diseases posed most risk to humans. This approach was being led by scientists at the University of Liverpool as part of a global effort to develop ways to prepare better for future outbreaks.

The report quotes University of Liverpool’s Professor Matthew Baylis as saying: ‘In the last 20 years, we’ve had six significant threats – SARS, MERS, Ebola, avian influenza and swine flu. We dodged five bullets but the sixth got us.

‘And this is not the last pandemic we are going to face, so we need to be looking more closely at wildlife disease.’

The scientists’ predictive pattern-recognition system can probe a vast database of every known wildlife disease, the report says. Across the thousands of bacteria, parasites and viruses known to science, this system identifies clues buried in the number and type of species they infect. It uses those clues to highlight which ones pose most of a threat to humans.

If a pathogen is flagged as a priority, scientists say they could direct research efforts into finding preventions or treatments before any outbreak happens.

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