Mkhize said the country’s official recorded confirmed cases are at 1 505, with 47 965 tests having been conducted.
He said the department is still waiting on results to confirm whether two more people in KwaZulu-Natal have succumbed to the disease.
“The 80-year-old male passed away on April 1st, and the 81-year old died on April 2nd. Both of them don’t have a history of having travelled anywhere. And they were admitted to hospitals in Durban,” Mkhize said.
With South Africa finishing its first full week of a national lockdown — with regulations that have been seen as extreme measures — Mkhize said interventions were bearing fruit.
“The numbers that we have seen of people who are being infected are being delayed by some of the impacts of the lockdown. The reduction of numbers of visitors, the closing of ports, also quarantining some who have been to the areas of the epicentre of the pandemic in Western countries has been very important,” he said.
He said that with increased testing using mobile screening units that will be sent around the country, the number of cases is expected to increase dramatically.
“Whatever numbers we are seeing now, there is a feeling that … will change when we are going out into the community to test new people,” he said.
For 21 days, South Africans are only allowed out of their homes to buy essential items from food stores and only essential workers are allowed to go to work.The sale of alcohol and cigarettes has been prohibited.
Mkhize has, for the past week, crisscrossed the country visiting the four provinces with the highest rates of Covid-19 cases — Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.
The government has paid tribute to health workers on the front line who are dealing with the increased number of people seeking medical treatment as a result of the disease.
Mkhize said there was no word yet on when foreign medical personnel would arrive to assist local doctors and nurses.
“The president has already been in consultation with various presidents; we are looking at Cuba and China. But President [Cyril] Ramaphosa is looking at additional support of various other countries, looking for whatever is possible,” he said.
On whether the lockdown will end on April 16, or will be extended, he said too much data and information is outstanding to make a call when life in South Africa will return to relative normality.