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South Africa’s coronavirus cases surpass 600,000

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

Reuters





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