South Africa sees ‘steep’ surge in COVID-19 infections

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South Africa’s daily COVID-19 infections have soared sharply in recent weeks, jumping over 1,500 percent from April, the president said Monday as the country’s vaccination rollout remained slow.

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“The climb in new cases has been extraordinarily rapid and steep over the past few weeks,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a weekly newsletter published every Monday.

He said average new daily cases had risen from below 800 in early April to over 13,000 in the past week.

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“In other words, it increased more than fifteen-fold from the last low point,” he added.

South Africa is the continent’s worst affected country, accounting for 35 percent of its total cases.

Gauteng, the country’s most populous province and commercial hub, is the epicenter of the outbreak.

It has already seen new infections exceed peaks in the two previous waves.
The government last week deployed army medical personnel to help health workers battle the outbreak in Gauteng, where Ramaphosa said “hospitals are reaching capacity, and healthcare workers are exhausted”.

The third infection wave has struck as South Africa is struggling to vaccinate its population -- having since February inoculated just over two million of its 59 million people.

It will from Wednesday start to immunize school teachers, after having so far only been open to health workers and over-60s.

The World Health Organization last week voiced alarm at surging cases across Africa and the spread of new, more contagious variants.

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