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To be fair, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned that with increased testing capacity and screening, positive COVID-19 cases would spike. A table released by the Health Department on Monday 20 April shows that during the last few weeks testing capacity has increased dramatically. 

South Africa’s increased testing capacity is commendable, but it’s still bittersweet because with amped-up testing and screening, comes finding what you don’t necessarily want — an increased number of COVID-19 cases. 

On Monday 20 April, Mkhize announced that there are 3 300 COVID-19 cases in South Africa. This is an increase of 142, as the total number of confirmed cases stood at 3 158 on Sunday 19 April. Mkhize also announced that the death toll rose to 58. This is an increase of four, as the total death toll stood at 54 on Sunday 19 April. 

Here’s how SA’s testing capacity has increased 

The Health Department was not lying when they said COVID-19 testing and screening would be ramped up. 

In a table released on Monday, one can see that over five weeks, the amount of tests conducted has increased dramatically, bringing in higher numbers of positive cases. 

The weekly public health laboratories capacity report shows the following: 

  • From 16 March to 22 March, there were 1 390 tests conducted, which brought in 63 new positive COVID-19 cases; 
  • From 23 March to 29 March, there were 3 239 tests conducted, which brought in 154 new positive cases; 
  • From 30 March to 5 April, there were 5 686 tests conducted, which led to 186 positive cases; 
  • From 6 April to 12 April, there were 9 978 tests conducted, which led to 314 positive cases being found; 
  • From 13 April to 19 April, there were a whopping 19 499 tests conducted, which led to the discovery of 548 positive COVID-19 cases. 

Over a five-week period and due to the increased testing capacity, 1 298 positive cases were reported. Over this five-week period, more than 40 000 tests were conducted. 

On Monday alone, there were 431 tests conducted. 

Testing in private and public sectors 

On Monday 20 April, Mkhize announced that tests have been conducted on 121 510 patients in both the public and private sectors. Mkhize cited a significant increase in testing, saying it is mainly attributed to the mass community screening and testing taking place in various provinces. 

On Saturday 18 April, 108 021 tests were conducted and on Sunday 19 April, 114 711 tests were conducted, showing a daily increase of 6 690.

Looking back even further, on 15 April last week, 90 515 tests were conducted and on 16 April, a total of 95 060. That indicated a daily increase of 4 545 tests.

To sum it up: Last week, tests conducted were increasing by roughly 4 000. A few days later, tests conducted were increasing by 6 000.

This shows that when the testing capacity improves, the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases become more accurate — essentially painting a clearer picture of the outbreak in South Africa.

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