A nurse fills a syringe with malaria vaccine before administering it to an infant at the Lumumba hospital in Kisumu

The Department of Health (DoH) shared on Tuesday that more than 7,400 malaria cases were recorded in South Africa between January to October this year, adding that at least 66 people died within the same period.

Only 17% of the total cases were logged locally, and most South Africans reportedly got the disease while they were out of the country. Hence, the DoH urged everyone traveling to take precautionary measures, especially since the country is entering malaria season.

"Summer season marks the start of the malaria period in South Africa due to higher temperatures and increased rainfall in the malaria transmission areas," the department said, as per SA News. "Late presentation to a health facility with symptoms is one of the contributing factors to increasing malaria morbidity and mortality rates. Early detection saves lives."

The DoH also reminded everyone about Malaria symptoms, which include headache, fever, chills, and muscle and joint pain. Moreover, it advised South Africans to visit their health care providers as soon as they experience any of these symptoms. While malaria is life-threatening, it can be prevented and cured.

To prevent malaria cases, the department has intensified screening and testing around borders in high-risk provinces, such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Beginning in September, it has also been implementing public education campaigns to raise awareness of the precautions needed to be taken against malaria, particularly among pregnant women and children under the age of 5 who have been advised not to visit malaria-endemic areas as much as possible.

The DoH released the figures a day after the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observed Malaria Day on Monday. At the time, the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) said it was focusing on public transport terminals, such as taxi stands and bus stations, to educate people on how they can protect themselves from the disease.

Gauteng hospitals logged 1,105 malaria cases from January to September this year. Ten people were reported dead within the same period due to life-threatening cases of the disease.

"The majority of people who were admitted and those who have demised as a result of the disease had traveled to Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola," the GDoH said, calling these countries malaria-endemic regions.

In May, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued an alert about the significant increase in malaria cases in the country. At the time, the government agency urged people who were suffering from fever or flu-like illness and residing in or had visited high-risk areas such as Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga in the past six weeks to do a malaria rapid diagnostic test.