South Africa’s COVID-19 death toll reached 24 on Friday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
The country also reported 69 more infections, bringing the tally to 2003, Africa’s largest.
Mkhize addressing a press briefing in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Province said youngest death was 41.
He said most of the deceased were old people, many of them with pre-existing ailments.
For some, the real cause of death may have been the pre-existing condition, he indicated.
Although COVID-19 cases keep rising, the country “is bucking the trend,” Mkhize said.
Since the national lockdown was introduced two weeks ago, the rate of infections was going down, from a daily increase of about 40 percent before the lockdown to just four percent after, according to Mkhize.
The lockdown has helped the country “disrupt” internal transmissions, he said.
The figures were an early indication that the lockdown has worked, he said.
Anyone who doubted the lockdown should now be convinced, said Mkhize.
He commended the announcement on Thursday night by President Cyril Ramaphosa to extend the 21-day lockdown by two weeeks, to the end of April.
TThe decision to extend the national lockdown is widely supported, the minister said.
“The scientific basis for it is very sound. And we are very happy that (the) president has been able to lead us in the way that he has,” said Mkhize.
He acknowledged that social distancing was still proving a challenge for South Africans.
“This must be part of our new culture to keep the curve flat,” Mkhize said.