Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa rises to 240

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A boy in a school uniform, wearing a protective mask to protect against the coronavirus, walks past other boys playing at Alexandra township in South Africa, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A boy in a school uniform, wearing a protective mask to protect against the coronavirus, walks past other boys playing at Alexandra township in South Africa, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The number of confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus in South Africa rose to 240, the country’s Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.

The latest figures represent an increase of 38 cases from Friday when the government reported that there were 202 cases.

Among the countries that some of the 38 patients had traveled to include Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Out of the 38 new cases, the Eastern Cape Province reported its first case of virus. Seven of South Africa’s nine provinces have now reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

“It is also notable that the Eastern Cape has its first confirmed case. The patient is a 28-year-old woman who had travelled to Germany,” Dr Mkhize said in a statement.

Western Cape Province accounts for almost half of the new cases with 18, followed by Gauteng with 16 then KwaZulu-Natal with three and the Eastern Cape with one. However, in total, Gauteng accounts for more than half of the country’s total cases (125).

More than a quarter (26.25 percent) of South Africa’s total infections were reported in people aged between 31-40 years while nearly a quarter (23.75 percent) of the total infections were reported in people aged between 51-60 years old.

South Africa is the worst hit nation in Africa by the coronavirus. In response to the COVID-19 numbers, the South African government on Wednesday announced several new measures to curb the spread of the disease.

The measures include legally enforcing testing, treatment and quarantine or isolation of suspected cases. The spread of false information about COVID-19 is also now punishable by up to six months in prison.

Health experts have warned that even facilities in Africa’s richest nation, South Africa, could be overwhelmed by the virus’ spread.

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