South Africa’s coronavirus cases surpass 600,000

The South African health ministry on Friday confirmed it recorded over 600,000 cases of coronavirus [COVID-19] infections.

Although the number of new cases has been declining since a peak in July, the country now has a total of 603,338 cases and 12,843 deaths – accounting for more than half of the continent’s cases and around 47% of its deaths.

South Africa imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns at the end of March when the country had only a few hundred cases. However, the country saw a surge in coronavirus infections that has left it the hardest hit in Africa.

With a total of 603,338 cases and 12,843 deaths, South Africa now accounts for more than half of the continent’s cases and around 47% of its deaths, a Reuters tally of government and World Health Organization data showed.

Africa’s most industrialised economy reported 3,398 new cases on Friday, compared with a peak of over 13,000 cases a day seen in July.

“We believe that South Africa is in a way moving past the point of the peak of the pandemic, we believe we have gone beyond the infection point,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 crisis has battered an economy already in recession and pushed millions of South Africans deeper into extreme poverty.

The government eased lockdown restrictions this week to allow most of the economy to re-open. But President Cyril Ramaphosa cautioned that cases could surge if people failed to maintain vigilance.

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