More than half a million coronaviruses have been confirmed in South Africa, according to the country’s health minister.
Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases on Saturday, bringing the tally to 503,290, along with 8,1
South Africa is the most affected country on the continent and accounts for half of all infections reported 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 real death toll in the country could be much higher.
In other developments:
South African health authorities said the infection rate is rising rapidly, with cases currently concentrated in the capital, Pretoria.
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More than a third of all infections have been reported in Gauteng, the financial center of South Africa, and a province that has quickly become the epicenter of the national epidemic.
The infections are not expected to peak for another month.
South Africa imposed a severe blockade in April and May which slowed the spread of coronavirus.
It began a gradual reopening in June but restrictions – including a ban on the sale of alcohol – were reintroduced last month when infection rates started to rise again. A state of emergency is also in effect until August 15.
The influx of patients put hospitals in South Africa to the test and a BBC investigation revealed a series of systematic failures that had depleted health workers and led the health service to almost collapse.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said last month that 28,000 hospital beds had been made available to Covid-19 patients, but the country still faces a “serious” shortage of doctors and nurses.
Last week, the World Health Organization warned that South Africa’s experience was probably a precursor to what would happen on the rest of the continent.