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Coronavirus in South Africa: What happens after lockdown ends?

South Africa may have flattened the curve, but find out why it’s unlikely the country will escape deaths. Find out what it’s doing to prepare.

Resource details:

Publication title: SA’s COVID-19 epidemic: Trends and next steps — prepared for Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize

Author(s): Salim S. Abdool Karim

Publication date: 13 April 2020

What the presentation is about:

The presentation outlines the state of South Africa’s COVID-19 outbreak and response to date, as well as its future course. It also spells out criteria the government will use to decide whether or not a national lockdown will end on 30 April.

Key takeaways from the presentation:

  • South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown seems to have worked, changing the trajectory of the epidemic, which its early stages seemed to be following a similar path as the outbreak in the United Kingdom
  • The lockdown appears to have decreased the rate of new infections, which have now plateaued.
  • The country has defined clear epidemiological criteria for ending the current coronavirus lockdown that will depend on the average number of new cases as well as how many new cases are being detected by community outreach teams.
  • South Africa’s response to the epidemic has been proactive. This has included active case finding at the community level. More than 28 000 community health care workers are conducting door-to-door screening in communities to identify new cases. 
  • Testing in the public and private sectors has increased since the lockdown began. The National Health Laboratory Services now says it expects the country will be able to do 50 000 tests within 24 hours with the help of new tests and private as well as academic laboratories.
  • New quicker and simpler tests are in the pipeline to allow for rapid results. 
  • South Africa is also taking part in opportunities to test out possible treatments for COVID-19, including participating in the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity trial
  • The country will now move to identify hotspots for transmission, most probably around large metropolitan areas as well as increase its capacity to deal with what is likely to be more deaths from the outbreak. Planning for field hospitals is at an advanced stage. 
  • Plans are also underway to conduct regular surveillance for new cases of the virus even after the epidemic has passed. 

You can download the presentation here.

[Please note: Information on the new coronavirus is rapidly changing. Please refer to the Department of Health for the latest information. Visit for updates on South Africa’s coronavirus response.]

Gopolang Makou was the impact and engagement officer at Bhekisisa.