Andrea Julsing-Keyter, a senior manager at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, had a warning for people seeking the test.
“It can only tell you, at that point of time, do you have antibodies, yes or no,” she said. “That’s all it can tell you — it is not to be used as an immunity passport.”
The downward trend in new cases comes as almost all grades returned to school this week, most for the first time since March.
And while things are looking up for the country, Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist and widely respected government adviser, warned that a second surge was still possible.
“If we let our guard down or for a short while, get complacent about our prevention strategies, our social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing, the second surge is waiting to pounce,” said Mr. Karim, who heads the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee. “It is possible to overcome — these predictions do not have to be true,” he added.
In other news from around the world:
The Vatican announced on Wednesday that, starting next month, Pope Francis would resume his weekly Wednesday audience in public, six months after the coronavirus put a halt to the pontiff’s participatory events with the faithful.
Madrid’s mayor asked residents of the city’s southern neighborhoods to stay at home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Spain, which has had more than 400,000 cases and nearly 30,000 deaths from the virus, is facing one of the most severe surges in coronavirus infections in Europe in recent days. The directive is not legally binding, but, the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, said the authorities would ramp up police presence in the southern neighborhoods to ensure that people wear masks and that they don’t drink outdoors.
Days before schools are set to open in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that it would be “clearly nonsensical” for students to wear face masks in class. “You can’t teach with face coverings, you can’t expect people to learn with face coverings. The most important thing is just to wash your hands,” Mr. Johnson said. In areas where local lockdowns are in place, students and staff members will be required to wear masks in communal areas with the exception of classrooms, where the government said “protective measures already mean the risks are lower.”
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has urged his government to eliminate “shortcomings” and “defects” in its battle against Covid-19, state media reported. The country has reported no coronavirus infections, but outside experts are skeptical, citing its decrepit public health system and its proximity to China, where the virus was first detected.
Local authorities have tightened restrictions in Marseille, the second-largest city in France, where the per capita rate of cases is more than four times the national rate. Under the new rules, which begin on Wednesday night and will remain in effect until at least Sept. 30, wearing a mask will be mandatory throughout the city. Bars and restaurants in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, which includes Marseille, will have to close overnight.
Reporting was contributed by Katrin Bennhold, Chelsea Brasted, Aurelien Breeden, Alexander Burns, Abdi Latif Dahir, Christina Goldbaum, Lauren Hirsch, Choe Sang-Hun, Mike Ives, Andrew Jacobs, Isabella Kwai, Alex Lemonides, Apoorva Mandavilli, Jonathan Martin, Patricia Mazzei, Heather Murphy, Elian Peltier, Elisabetta Povoledo, Campbell Robertson, Rick Rojas, Simon Romero, Anna Schaverien, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Tracey Tully and Katherine J. Wu.