South Africa, continent’s hardest hit nation, tops 600,000 COVID-19 infections

FILE PHOTO: A health worker walks between beds at a temporary field hospital set up by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) during the COVID-19 outbreak in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa, July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings -/File Photo

South Africa’s number of confirmed COVID-19 infections has surpassed the 600,000 mark as the country continues to see a steady rise in cases.

Not only is the country the only in Africa to hit that mark, but it is also the only country on the continent to report more than 100,000 infections.

Figures published by the Department of Health also show that the country has registered 12,843 COVID-19-related deaths.

South Africa is Africa’s hardest-hit country, accounting for 51.6 percent of the continent’s infections and 47 percent of its deaths.

Globally, its number of infections is the fifth highest, shadowed only by tallies registered by the United States, Brazil, India and Russia.

South Africa also leads Africa in the number of healthcare workers infected with COVID-19.

Earlier this month, the health ministry revealed that some 24,000 healthcare workers had contracted the virus, with over 180 deaths.

The health ministry said on Friday it was intensifying efforts to protect the health professionals as they lead the country in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our health care workers are the pulse of the COVID-19 response and therefore it is not only our duty but our imperative to protect our frontline workers at all times. I wish to assure my colleagues of our continued commitment to constantly engage and co-operate to find lasting solutions for a healthy workforce,” said health minister Zweli Mkhize.