South Africa reports 1,654 new COVID cases, 117 deaths

People walk at a street in Cape Town, South Africa on December 27, 2020, Xabiso Mkhabela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – DECEMBER 27: People wearing face masks walk at a street as they continue their daily life amid coronavirus (Covid-19) in Cape Town, South Africa on December 27, 2020.
(Photo by Xabiso Mkhabela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

South Africa recorded 1,654 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the number of confirmed infections to 1,510,778, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“Regrettably, 117 deaths have been reported. We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated the deceased patients,” said Mkhize.

He said fatalities recorded Friday’s pushed the number of fatalities to 49,784.

The country has the highest number of infections on the continent and is the sixteenth most-affected country in the world.

It has conducted more than nine million COVID-19 tests since the virus was first detected here last March with 28,752 new tests being performed in the past 24 hours.

More than 1.4 million people have recovered from the deadly illness representing a recovery rate of 94 percent.

South Africa started vaccinating health care workers last Wednesday with state leaders and a group of health care workers becoming the first recipients at a hospital in Cape Town.

Mkhize told the National Assembly on Thursday that the country is planning to vaccinate 1.1 million people by the end of March, mostly health care workers.