South Africa coronavirus cases top 500,000

by Susan Njanji

South Africa has now registered more than 500,000 cases of coronavirus, the health ministry announced Saturday, making it by far the hardest-hit country in Africa.

The country has become the epicentre of the deadly pandemic on the continent, accounting for more than half of Africa’s diagnosed infections.

“Today South Africa has exceeded the half-a-million mark with a cumulative total of 503,290 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded,” Heath Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

More than a third of positive cases are in Gauteng province — South Africa’s financial hub.

So far the number of fatalities stands at 8,153, although local researchers have recorded a jump of nearly 60 percent in the overall number of natural deaths in recent weeks, suggesting a far higher toll of coronavirus-related fatalities than officially recorded.

An analysis by the respected South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) suggested an excess of 22,000 natural mortalities between May 6 and July 21 compared to same period in 2019 and 2018.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Saturday South Africa’s case fatality rate stood at 1.6 percent — “significantly lower than the global average”.

“While South Africa has the fifth highest number of total COVID-19 cases globally, we have only the 36th highest number of deaths as a proportion of the population,” said Ramaphosa. (AFP)

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