Zweli Mkhize. Image: GCIS

The rate of new coronavirus infections in South Africa has to slow before the country can lift a nationwide lockdown in line with World Health Organisation guidelines, health minister Zweli Mkhize said.

South Africa, which has the highest number of confirmed infections on the continent, eased some restrictions on 1 May, almost five weeks after imposing a stringent lockdown. Schools will be allowed to reopen on 1 June. The country’s case count increased by 767 to 17 200 on Tuesday while the death toll rose by 26 to 312.

The government’s Covid-19 modelling team on Tuesday presented forecasts showing a peak in active cases in early July under the pessimistic scenario, or a peak in early August under the optimistic scenario. Mkhize made his comments during the briefing.

Short-term protections are updated on a weekly basis while long-term projections are due to be updated at the beginning of June.  — Reported by Amogelang Mbatha, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP