South Africa’s COVID-19 infections breach 600,000 mark

PUBLISHED: Sat, 22 Aug 2020 08:32:47 GMT
Share

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have surpassed 600,000, the health ministry said on Friday, although the number of new cases has been declining since a peak in July.

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

The ministry said in a statement South Africa now had 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, according to a Reuters tally of government and World Health Organization data.

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 inflection 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.

OSAKA, JAPAN – JUNE 28: (RUSSIA OUT) South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speeches during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019, June 28, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. Vladimir Putin has arrived to Japan to participate the G20 Osaka Summit and to meet U.S.President Donald Trump. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

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.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Daily Update
Get the best of CNBC Africa sent straight to your inbox with breaking business news, insights and updates from experts across the continent.
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services. By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.