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 on the continent.
“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.
South Africa has become the epicentre of the deadly pandemic on the continent, accounting for more than half of Africa’s diagnosed infections.
More than a third of positive cases are in Gauteng province — South Africa’s financial hub and epicentre of the outbreak.
So far the number of fatalities stands at 8,153, although local reseachers have recorded a jump of nearly 60 percent in the overall number of natural deaths in recent weeks, suggesting a much higher toll of coronavirus-related fatalities than officially recorded.
Health authorities have been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed on March 27, during the early stage of the pandemic.
South Africa has embarked on an aggressive testing and tracing exercise and it has conducted more than three million tests since the virus landed on its shores in early March. (AFP)