South Africa’s COVID-19 infections top 3 million mark

Passengers, some wearing masks, wait for their taxi to leave the Baragwanath taxi rank in Soweto, South Africa, Thursday Dec. 2, 2021. (Photo by Jerome Delay via CFP)
Passengers, some wearing masks, wait for their taxi to leave the Baragwanath taxi rank in Soweto, South Africa, Thursday Dec. 2, 2021. (Photo by Jerome Delay via CFP)

The number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa surpassed the 3 million mark on Friday as the country experiences a fresh wave of infections amid the emergence of the Omicron variant.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, the country recorded 16,055 new cases over the past 24 hours, which brings the total number of infections to 3,004,203.

The institute noted that the majority of new cases were recorded in Gauteng (72%). Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal each accounted for 6 per cent and North West per cent.

In the same period, the NICD registered 25 new deaths, bringing the country’s total number of virus-related fatalities to 89,944.

South Africa is by far the hardest-hit country by the pandemic in Africa, accounting for 34.61 per cent of the continent’s cases and 40.22 per cent of its fatalities.

The country has reported the Omicron strain in seven of its nine provinces, even as the government heightens surveillance and response to contain further spread.

A mass vaccination exercise is underway across the country. Latest figures from the health ministry showed that some 26,263, 590 doses had been administered by Friday evening.