The World Health Organization (WHO) commended South Africa on Thursday for its determined efforts which have helped curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.   

The global health body said it is greatly encouraged by the ongoing measures in South Africa to suppress the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

“To tackle the pandemic, South Africa took decisive steps such as instituting response coordination mechanisms at all levels, setting up control interventions for all critical pillars of response and imposing public health and social measures, including movement restrictions, curfews and closure of businesses,” it said in a statement. 

South Africa is now in its sixth consecutive week of declining numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, currently recording fewer than 2,000 infections a day. 

Two months ago, the country was recording about 12,000 cases daily. 

“There has also been a steady drop in demand for hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen and other essential medical needs,” the health body said.  

The WHO said strong public health measures put in place by South Africa helped limit the exponential spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed the country to establish capacities for testing, isolation, treatment of cases and tracing as well as quarantining of contacts.  

South Africa has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent and is the eighth most affected country globally with more than 15,700 deaths and over 655,000 confirmed infections. 

 The WHO praised the country’s strong commitment and leadership as strong pillars that have helped in combating the pandemic. 

“Without this dedication, we would not be where we are today,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. 

“The latest trends in South Africa are clearly encouraging. However, we must remain vigilant and be prepared to effectively tackle any resurgence. We are not yet out of the woods, and so we must not relax,” she said. 

South Africa’s strong health system, research in health science and diagnostic capacity have also provided a steady foundation to the COVID-19 response in the country and in the region. 

At the start of the pandemic, South Africa was one of only two countries in Africa able to diagnose the virus. The country has tested nearly 4 million people for the virus and over 585,000 have recovered, which translates to a recovery rate of over 88%.

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