The country reported a daily increase of 10,107 new COVID-19[feminine[feminine infections.
That brings the total to 503,290 – the fifth in the world, behind the United States, Brazil, India and Russia, according to Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
Denis Chopera, a Durban-based virologist, said: “Half a million is an important milestone because it shows that we have entered a phase of rapid increase. We could reach a million cases very quickly. ”
Many experts believe South Africa could reach the peak of cases in late August or early September.
Mr Chopera added: “What we know for sure is that the numbers are underestimated and this virus will stay with us for a long time to come.”
Just over three million of South Africa’s 58 million people have been tested since the country’s first case was confirmed five months ago.
Gauteng, which includes South Africa’s largest city Johannesburg and its administrative capital Pretoria, is currently the epicenter of the virus.
But Mr Chopera said provinces such as the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal could fare badly with a sharp rise in cases as their health systems are less prepared.
“They can have serious problems,” he said.
The death toll stands at 8,153 in South Africa. There have been approximately 684,000 in the world.
South Africa went into lockdown at the end of March, but many restrictions were relaxed to limit the effect on the country’s economy, which was already in recession before the virus hit.
The unemployment rate is around 30%.
Social distancing was often impossible in the heavily populated urban areas of South Africa, and there are fears that the same problems will see a rapid increase in cases across the continent, where a large portion of the population lives in similar overcrowded conditions. .
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “The lockdown has succeeded in delaying the spread of the virus by more than two months, preventing a sudden and uncontrolled rise in infections in late March.”
Meanwhile, India recorded its steepest peak of 57,118 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to nearly 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.
Additionally, Mexico has overtaken the United Kingdom to have the third highest death toll from the virus, 47,472, behind the United States and Brazil.