South Africa hits 500,000 confirmed cases, still not at peak

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa on Saturday surpassed 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 circumstances, representing greater than 50% of all reported coronavirus infections in Africa’s 54 nations.

Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize introduced 10,107 new circumstances Saturday night time, bringing the nation’s cumulative whole to 503,290, together with 8,153 deaths.

South Africa, with a inhabitants of about 58 million, has the fifth-highest variety of circumstances on the earth, behind the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India, all nations with considerably increased populations, in accordance to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic worldwide is far increased than confirmed circumstances, resulting from restricted testing and different causes.

“Half a million is a significant milestone, because it shows we’ve entered a stage of rapid increases. We may reach 1 million cases very quickly,” mentioned Denis Chopera, a virologist based mostly in Durban. “What we all know for certain is that the figures are an underestimate and that this virus might be with us for a very long time to come back.”

South Africa’s Gauteng province — which incorporates Johannesburg, the nation’s largest metropolis and Pretoria, the capital — is the nation’s epicenter with greater than 35% of its confirmed circumstances. Local hospitals have been struggling to manage, and well being specialists say the nation may attain the height of its outbreak in late August or early September.

Cape Town, a metropolis beloved by worldwide vacationers on the nation’s southern tip, was the first epicenter

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and reached its peak final month, based on well being specialists.

South Africa may have a number of peaks throughout the nation, every difficult its totally different provincial well being care programs, mentioned Chopera, government supervisor of the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence.

“The Western Cape had the primary peak and did comparatively effectively. Gauteng is the epicenter now and seems to be coping thus far,” he mentioned. “Other provinces, just like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, wouldn’t have reputations for well-organized well being care programs. They might have critical issues.”

South Africa imposed a strict lockdown in April and May that succeeded in slowing the unfold of the virus however brought about such financial injury that the nation started a gradual reopening in June.

South Africa was already in recession earlier than the coronavirus hit and its unemployment stands at 30%. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s authorities has prolonged grants to the nation’s poorest, elevated provides to hospitals and just lately accepted a $4.three billion mortgage from the International Monetary Fund.

Corruption within the nation’s pandemic response is a growing problem. On Thursday the highest well being official in Gauteng province was pressured to step down over corruption allegations associated to authorities contracts for COVID-19 private protecting tools.

Ramaphosa has warned that now, greater than ever, South Africa’s persistent downside with widespread graft is endangering folks’s lives.

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Follow AP’s pandemic protection at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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