South Africa recorded 398 new coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total confirmed deaths to 45,344, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced.
Mkhize said health officials discovered 4,058 more COVID-19 cases after 39,596 new tests, bringing the cumulative number of infections to 1,463,016.
The coastal province of Kwa-Zulu Natal recorded the highest number of deaths with 138, followed by Gauteng Province, which includes the capital Pretoria and the largest city Johannesburg with 97 deaths and the Western Cape tourism center with 67 deaths. The remaining six provinces each had fewer than 50 deaths.
South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths on the continent. It is also the 15th hardest hit country in the world.
On Monday, South Africa received its first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the arrival of the vaccines promised the country could turn the tide on the disease that has caused so much devastation and hardship around the world.
Healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors are prioritized for vaccination in the first phase.
The president said that in the second phase, priority will be given to key workers, people over 60 and people with comorbidities, as well as people living in nursing homes and dormitories.
“In phase 3 we will expand the vaccination program to the rest of the adult population,” confirmed Ramaphosa.
South Africa has performed at least 8.3 million COVID-19 tests since the first case was discovered in March last year.
Mkhize said 1.3 million people in the country have recovered from the deadly pandemic, representing a recovery rate of 90.5%.
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