New COVID-19 Cases per week in South Africa

As an epidemiologist, I want to see if the number of new cases of COVID-19 is increasing, stable or decreasing over time. This in order for me to know if things are getting worse or better and based on that to determine my behaviour. So until the 1st of August 2020 I visualized the weekly number of new cases in the country and each of the provinces.

Since the reported number of new cases has been decreasing in the country I moved to displaying the number of new cases with the number of new tests reported, and reporting the positivity rate (currently 8%). One must keep in mind that this graph only shows the number of confirmed cases, so excludes everyone else who may have been infected but was not tested.

A more reliable indicator of the progress of the epidemic at this point might be the number of people who die of COVID-19, although there is a delay of several weeks between the trend in new cases and that in new deaths. Furthermore, the reported number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in South Africa is much lower than the recorded "excess deaths" in the country. [samrc.ac.za/reports/report-weekly-deaths-south-africa] Tracking excess mortalityis widely seen as way to gauge the full scale of fatalities from Covid-19 as it e.g. includes those suspected of having the coronavirus who died without having been tested.

“This fight is about us behaving differently to how we did before COVID19 ... We need to say, I will make sure that I am protecting others, by protecting myself too"

South Africa Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize

We can all have a positive impact on the rate of new infections by limiting the number of people we come into contact with daily and lowering the chance of transmission of the virus. Read "Distance, Dose, Dispersion: An experts’ guide on Covid-19 risks in South Africa and how to manage them

For myself this means working from home, “meeting” colleagues as well as friends only online, getting groceries delivered. When I go out to exercise, I wear a face mask, keep at least 1.5 metre distance from other people and wash my hands afterwards.