By Agence France-Presse
Sixty-six people, most of them staff at one South African hospital, have tested positive for coronavirus, the health minister said Tuesday as the national total of cases jumpted to 1,749.
Authorities are now rushing to temporarily shut the facility.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said authorities were concerned about an outbreak at St. Augustine hospital, in the southeastern coastal city of Durban.
Of those infected, 48 are hospital staffers, the minister said.
South Africa has reported 13 deaths so far, including four at the same hospital.
Mkhize said the government was negotiating with hospital management “with the view to close it down”.
“We have said they must stop taking any new outpatients and inpatients,” Mkhize said.
South Africa is currently observing a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday that the lockdown has thus far helped slow down the spread.
“If we had not locked down South Africa as we have, I can tell you without any shadow of doubt that the infection rate… would have been a lot, lot higher than what we have,” he said.