South Africa is expected to move to lockdown level 1 in the next week or two, according to reports, as the coronavirus toll worldwide continues to rise, reaching more than 921 000 at the weekend.

President Cyril Ramaphosa hinted last week that a move to level 1 was under discussion. This coincided with health minister Zweli Mkhize’s comments in a radio interview that, so far, a feared surge in cases after the move to level 2 a few weeks ago had not materialised.

‘The past two weeks have been very encouraging with no upsurge, which we hope (will remain the case) if we go to the next level lower.’

Yesterday, City Press cited senior officials, who were privy to meetings at the National Coronavirus Command Council, as saying that the move to the lowest lockdown level could happen within the ‘next week or two’, with an announcement considered imminent.

This could mean the opening of international borders, but possibly only to the rest of Africa, with the ban on international travel to Europe and other destinations likely to stay in place in view of the risk of re-importing infections.

The tourism industry has been urging the government to relieve pressure on the sector by enabling international tourists to visit during summer.

Globally, AFP reported that 921 097 people had died since the outbreak emerged in China last December. It said at least 28 819 490 cases of coronavirus had been registered, of which at least 19 133 300 were now considered recovered.

It is noted that these tallies, based on figures from national authorities and the World Health Organisation, probably reflected only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 193 705 deaths from 6 486 401 cases. At least 2 434 658 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 131 210 deaths from 4 315 687 cases, India with 78 586 deaths from 4 754 356 cases, Mexico with 70 604 deaths from 663 973 cases, and the United Kingdom with 41 628 deaths from 365 174 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Peru, with 93 fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants, followed by Belgium (86), Spain (64), Bolivia (63), and Chile (62).

Reuters reported that India recorded 94 372 new cases on Sunday..

Indonesia on Sunday reported its sixth consecutive day of over 3 000 new cases.

Positive cases in South Africa grew yesterday by 1 579 to a cumulative total of 649 793 (with 577 906 recoveries). Deaths rose by 20 to 15 447.

The highest tally of cases is in Gauteng (215 140), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (116 389), the Western Cape (108 431) and the Eastern Cape (87 415).

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