SA had its deadliest day since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, setting grim new records in terms of both fatalities and new cases.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that 844 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, along with 21,832 cases. Of the deaths, 452 were in the Eastern Cape alone, as a result of "data reconciliation".
The previous high for single-day deaths was 572 on July 22, and the previous daily high for cases was the 18,000 infections recorded exactly a week ago on December 31. In total, 31,368 Covid-19 related deaths have been recorded and 1,149,591 total infections have been confirmed. The new cases come from 70,060 tests, at a positivity rate of 31.1%.
Of the newly recorded deaths, 452 were in the Eastern Cape, 149 in the Western Cape, 65 in KwaZulu-Natal, 46 in the North West, 12 in the Free State, 11 in Limpopo, eight in Mpumalanga and five in the Northern Cape. Explaining the massive spike in Eastern Cape deaths, Mkhize said it was "a result of data reconciliation dating between May and November 2020".
"This includes analysis of community cases where post-mortem swabs were taken for Covid testing and analysis of clinical records where the the diagnosis was unconfirmed at the time of demise. The national department of health is engaging the province to investigate the details of the reporting backlog," he said.
Overall, there are now 188,984 active cases across the country. Most of them are in KZN (76,993), followed by the Western Cape (41,356) and Gauteng (35,727). To date, 929,239 recoveries have been recorded at a recovery rate of 80.8%.