Covid-19 update: South Africa reports 2,952 new cases

South Africa has 2,952 new cases of Covid-19, the National Institute for Infectious Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, has announced.

This brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,894,745. This increase represents a positive outcome rate of 16.8%.

Today, the majority of new cases are in Gauteng (47%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (18%). The Western Cape accounted for 14%; The Free State accounted for 7%; The Eastern Cape and Northwest accounted for 4% each, respectively; Northern Cape was 3%; Mpumalanga accounted for 2% and Limpopo 1% of today’s cases.

The country also recorded 16 deaths, of which 8 occurred in the last 24-48 hours. This brings the total death toll to date to 100,771.

“Due to ongoing audits by the National Department of Health (NDoH), there may be a buildup of reported deaths from Covid-19,” the NICD said in a statement.

24,903,051 tests were conducted in both the public and private sectors.

‘I feel free’: France lifts Covid-19 mask rule on public transport

Face masks are no longer required on metros, trains and planes in France as of Monday as French authorities lifted one of the last remaining health measures introduced since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Health Minister Olivier Véran announced last week that masks would no longer be mandatory on public transport and taxis following the recent significant drop in Covid-19 cases.

“I feel free. It was not so easy to breathe properly in masks,” said 26-year-old Parisian Jaceula Madimba in the metro on Monday morning.

France began easing its strict mask-wearing rules in February after a winter spike in cases, but they were still required in the workplace or schools for several weeks until the number of infections dropped.

Veran warned that the new measure does not mean the pandemic is over and insisted that the mask remain recommended.

“I think it is still necessary to wear masks, just to be safe for my friends and family,” said Aurelia Imbert, an engineer on her way to the Czech Republic for work from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Masks, as well as a medical passport confirming a Covid-19 vaccination, are still required to enter hospitals.

The pandemic appears to be under control in France for now, but some experts warn against writing it off in the history books as a new variant may yet emerge.

And people with weak immune systems have expressed their concern.

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“I will continue to wear a mask and encourage everyone to do so. We protect each other mutually, let’s think about immunodeficiencies,” said French epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik.

France has recorded just over 147,000 Covid-19 deaths since the outbreak began.

In Europe, Spain still requires masks to enter hospitals, nursing homes and on public transport, while in Belgium masks are only required on buses, trams and trains.

In Italy, masks remain mandatory in hospitals and on public transport, as well as in cinemas, theaters and schools.

Additional AFP reporting