173 more deaths and 8 773 new Covid-19 cases as nearly 2 million pupils head back to school
Cape Town - The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has increased to 196 750 and a further 173 people have died, the health ministry said on Sunday.
This represents an increase of 8 773 new cases a day before more pupils return to school.
Grades 12 and 7 resumed schooling last month as part of a phased approach to resume classes which had been stalled for nearly four months.
According to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, the latest deaths - 2 from Northern Cape, 10 from the Free State, 21 from KwaZulu Natal, 29 from Eastern Cape, 40 from Western Cape and 71 from Gauteng - bring the total number of Covid-19-related fatalities to 3 199.
The number of patients who have recovered from the coronavirus stands at 93 315, which translates to a recovery rate of 47,4%, Mkhize said.
In total, 1 830 161 tests have been completed, with 38 083 new tests reported in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, anxious parents are preparing to send their children back to school amid repeated warnings that the pandemic has yet to reach its peak, but the education ministry has moved to downplay the risks.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Sunday that less than 1 percent of teaching staff employed by her department has contracted the coronavirus.
"Since the return of the Grade 7 and 12 learners on 8 June 2020, two thousand, seven hundred and forty (2 740) teachers, of the total number of about four hundred and forty thousand (440 000) teachers, were infected by the virus. This is equivalent to less than one percent of the entire teacher population in our country. In the same period, one thousand, two hundred and sixty (1 260) learners were infected by the virus. This implies that zero point zero one percent (0.01%) of our learners, were infected by the virus," Motshekga said during a briefing on her department's readiness to resume classes.
Grades R, 6 and 11 expected to return on Monday, July 6 while other grades would be phased in later, Motshekga said.
However, Limpopo, KwaZulu and North West indicated that they were delaying the phasing in of Grade R learners.
North West Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela said the province took that decision to avoid an influx of grades returning to school and to save lives.
As a result, they would only welcome grades 6 and 11 this week, she said.
"This is the safest approach as opposed to the inundation of all three grades at once. By so doing we are continuing to save lives of our learners in adjusting to the new normal", said MEC Matsemela.
Motshekga said those provinces that stated that they were not ready for Grade Rs must provide strategic and realisable plans for ensuring that the children return to school not later than the end of the month.
"What is critically important is that all Grade R and pre-Grade R learners who have already returned to schools, must remain in schools and those schools that meet the health, safety and social distancing protocols, can reopen for their Grade R and pre-Grade R learners," she said.
Motshekga said there were some private institutions that had already started getting ready for Early Childhood Development programes.
"They are very ready and we have agreed that those will be allowed but ECD centres in schools will be phased in on readiness of school but will have to be done within the gazetted time frames," she said.IOL