Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa have passed half a million, its health ministry said, while cases in Africa as a whole have approached one million.
Africa’s most industrialized nation has recorded 10,107 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 503,290, the ministry said on Saturday.
Just over three million people have so far been tested for the virus in South Africa, which confirmed its first case five months ago, and 8,153 deaths have been recorded.
Africa has recorded 934,558 cases, 19,752 deaths and 585,567 recoveries, according to a Reuters tally.
South Africa imposed a nationwide lockdown at the end of March to curb the spread of the virus, but it has now relaxed many restrictions to boost economic activity – as have other countries on the continent. , many of whose populations are poor and face hunger. .
“The lockdown succeeded in delaying the spread of the virus for more than two months, preventing a sudden and uncontrolled rise in infections in late March,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a separate statement.
As restrictions have eased, infections have increased in the past two months.
Corruption linked to the pandemic
However, the daily rise in infections appears to be leveling off, especially in the worst-affected provinces of Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape, Ramaphosa added.
Last week, Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s top emergency specialist, warned that South Africa’s experience was a precursor of what was likely to happen across the continent.
The difficulty – if not outright impossible – to socially distance in poor and tight urban areas of Africa, has also been a catalyst for the spread of the virus.
The cases in South Africa, which has the fifth-highest total in the world, overwhelmed an already overburdened health system.
This presents an edifying tale for other African countries, whose health services are, for the most part, even more strained.
In August, the National Ventilator Project will deliver 20,000 locally produced non-invasive ventilators to where they are most needed, Ramaphosa said, as the government continues to mobilize additional facilities, equipment and personnel in provinces that continue to experience an increase. infections.
South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus hit, and its unemployment stands at 30%. Ramaphosa’s government has given grants to the country’s poorest, increased hospital supplies, and recently accepted a $ 4.3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Corruption in the country’s pandemic response is a growing problem. The top health official in Gauteng province was forced to resign on Thursday over corruption allegations linked to government contracts for COVID-19 personal protective equipment.
Ramaphosa warned that today, more than ever, South Africa’s persistent problem with a widespread transplant puts people’s lives at risk.