More than half a million coronaviruses have been confirmed in South Africa, according to the country’s Minister of Health.
Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 503,290, as well as 8,153 deaths.
South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the continent and accounts for half of all reported infections in Africa.
It also has the fifth highest number of cases in the world after the United States, Brazil, Russia and India.
The researchers said the actual number of deaths in the country could be much higher.
In other developments:
South African health officials said the infection rate was rising rapidly, with cases currently concentrated around the capital, Pretoria.
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More than a third of all infections were reported in Gauteng – the financial center of South Africa, and a province that quickly became the epicenter of the national epidemic.
Infections should not peak for a month.
South Africa imposed a strict lockdown in April and May that slowed the spread of the coronavirus.
It began a gradual reopening in June, but restrictions – including a ban on the sale of alcohol – were reintroduced last month as infection rates started to rise again. A state of emergency is also in effect until August 15.
The influx of patients put incredible pressure on South African hospitals, and a BBC investigation uncovered a series of systematic failures that had exhausted medical professionals and brought the health service to the brink of collapse .
President Cyril Ramaphosa said last month that 28,000 hospital beds had been made available for Covid-19 patients, but the country still faced a “serious” shortage of doctors and nurses.
Last week, the World Health Organization warned that South Africa’s experience was likely a precursor to what would happen in the rest of the continent.