COVID-19: South Africa virus cases pass half million mark

Written By: BBC News

COVID-19: South Africa virus cases pass half million mark

More than half a million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, according to the country’s health minister.

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Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases on Saturday, bringing the tally to 503,290, along with 8,153 deaths.

South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the continent and accounts for half of all reported infections in Africa.

It also has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world after the US, Brazil, Russia and India.

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Researchers have said the true number of deaths in the country may be far higher.

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South African health authorities have said the rate of infection is increasing rapidly, with cases currently concentrated around the capital, Pretoria.

More than a third of all infections have been reported in Gauteng – South Africa’s financial hub, and a province that has quickly become the epicentre of the national outbreak.

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Infections are not expected to peak for another month.

South Africa imposed a strict lockdown in April and May that slowed the spread of the coronavirus.

It began a gradual reopening in June but restrictions – including a ban on alcohol sales – were reintroduced last month as infection rates began to rise again. A state of emergency is also in force until 15 August.

The influx of patients has put an incredible strain on South Africa’s hospitals, and a BBC investigation found an array of systematic failures that had exhausted healthcare professionals and brought the health service near to collapse.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa said last month that 28,000 hospital beds had been made available for Covid-19 patients but the country still faced a “serious” shortage of doctors and nurses.

Last week the World Health Organization warned that South Africa’s experience was likely a precursor to what would happen across the rest of the continent.


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