By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South Africa recorded 680 new coronavirus deaths late Tuesday, pushing the total number of confirmed fatalities to 41,797 -- the highest on the continent, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced.
Mkhize said the country also detected 6,041 new COVID-19 infections in a 24-hour period, taking the number of confirmed cases to 1,423,578.
He said the coastal province of Kwa-Zulu Natal recorded the highest number of fatalities at 306 followed by 141 deaths reported in Gauteng province, which includes the capital Pretoria and Johannesburg, the country’s largest city.
Other deaths were recorded in the Western Cape Province, the country’s tourism hub, where 95 people succumbed to the virus. The remaining six provinces had just over 100 deaths in total.
South Africa is currently battling a second wave of the pandemic. The country has the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths on the continent and is the 15th most-affected country globally.
Africa’s most developed economy is also currently battling a new COVID-19 variant known as 501Y.V2, which is said to be 50% more infectious and has been detected in at least 20 countries.
This week, US public health officials were quoted in the media as saying that President Joe Biden will impose a ban on most non-US citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa in a bid to contain the spread of the new variant.
Despite having a new variant, COVID-19 cases are dropping in the country, where at least 1.25 million patients have recovered from the deadly respiratory illness, representing a recovery rate of 88%.
South Africa has so far conducted over 8 million COVID-19 tests since March, with 39,529 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.