South Africa surpasses 60,000 coronavirus deaths

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa, the worst virus-hit country on the continent, crossed the threshold of 60,000 coronavirus deaths on Monday, health officials said a day after a stricter lockdown was enforced.

“Another 138 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of deaths to 60,038 to date,” the National Institute for Communicable Diseases tweeted on Monday.

At least 512 new hospital admissions were reported on Monday, bringing the total number of hospital patients to 11,801.

“The patient’s condition is so much worse,” Elsabe Conradie, managing director and doctor of eMalahleni Private Hospital east of Johannesburg, told AFP on Monday.

“They get much, much sicker and so many of them never leave the hospital,” she said.

According to the health authority, 12,222 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours – 28.3 percent of those tested.

Gauteng Province – home to the administrative capital Pretoria and the financial hub of Johannesburg – is the current epicenter of the outbreak, accounting for about 69 percent of the recent daily surge.

The government and scientists announced over the weekend that the highly contagious Delta variant is driving the rise in South African Covid-19 infections, which is testing the capacity of hospitals.

To curb the spread, President Cyril Ramaphosa again imposed restrictions for two weeks from Monday and banned all gatherings with the exception of funerals, where the number is limited to 50 people.

With the number of cases rising and the introduction of vaccines sluggish, South Africa is experiencing a third wave with new daily cases doubling in the past two weeks.

The country’s vaccination campaign was slow. Around 2.7 million of the 59 million people have been vaccinated since February, but Ramaphosa said vaccination is gaining traction.

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