South Africa COVID-19 cases rise over 300,000

South Africa COVID-19 cases rise over 300,000

South Africa's coronavirus cases inched over 300,000 on Wednesday, the health ministry said, as the continent's worst-affected country hurtles towards an expected peak of infections.

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"We have exceeded the 300,000 mark to reach a cumulative total of 311,049 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement. 

An additional 107 fatalities were also reported on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths up to 4,453.

Over 35 percent of cases were recorded in Gauteng province -- South Africa's financial hub and epicentre of the outbreak, which also accounts for the highest number of deaths.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week warned that the "coronavirus storm" South Africa faced was "far fiercer and more destructive than any we have known before". 

The country is the hardest-hit in Africa, followed by Egypt with just under 85,000 confirmed cases and 4,067 deaths to date.

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South Africa's mortality rate has remained low, however, at just under 1.5 percent on Wednesday.

More than half of the country's COVID-19 patients have recovered from the virus.

"We are now facing a real rise in infections," Ramaphosa said earlier on Wednesday, noting growing pressure on "challenged" health facilities.

The president re-imposed a night curfew and a controversial alcohol sales ban on Sunday to ease pressure on hospitals.

Those restrictions had been gradually lifted after a strict seven-week lockdown.

"It gave us an opportunity to prepare, to prepare our health facilities to be able to deal and cope with the rising infections," Ramaphosa assured.

"Now that infections are rising our health facilities... face challenges," he said, adding that alcohol sales had been suspended to limit the number of "people who go to hospital with trauma incidents".

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