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South Africa now has the fifth highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world

File image. Picture: Reuters

Tokyo – Countries from the US to South Africa to India were struggling to hold down rising rates of the coronavirus, as global deaths from Covid-19 surged past 600 000 in a sign of how far off the world remains from a return to normalcy.

More than 14.3 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 600 497​ have died, according to the latest Reuters tally.

The World Health Organization on Saturday again reported a single-day record of new infections with 259 848.

While the United States leads global infections with 3 727 371 cases and 139 994 deaths, South Africa now ranks as the fifth worst-hit country in the pandemic with 350,879 cases –  roughly half of all those confirmed on the African continent.

Brazil was second with 2 074 860 cases and 78 772 deaths.

This week India became the third country in the world to record more than one million coronavirus cases. India currently has 1 038 716 cases and 26 273 deaths have been confirmed. Russia reported 765 437 cases and 12 247 deaths.

On Saturday night the Department of Health confirmed that South Africa currently has 350 879 Covid-19 cases, an increase of 13 285 cases since Friday. 

A total of 144 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours, the national Department of Health said.

The recovery rate has remained stable, with 182 230 people, or 52 percent of patients, having fully recovered.

On Saturday night Health Minister Zweli Mkhize issued a statement reiterating an appeal he made on June 28 for South Africans to take the pandemic seriously and to adhere to government’s strategy and regulations to curb the spread of the virus. 

“We are extremely concerned that fatigue seems to have set in and South Africans are letting down their guard at a time when the spread of infection is surging. We see poor or no social distancing in communities. Masks are being abandoned or not worn properly and there is laxity setting in around frequent hand-washing.” Mkhize said.

“This will directly influence the rise in numbers in the next two weeks,” he cautioned.

The next African country to appear in Reuters list is Egypt at number 23, with 87 172 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4 251 deaths.

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