By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - 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 9 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%.
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.
South Africa will receive a second batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well as a shipment of 600,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot before the end of the month, according to Mkhize.
It has secured millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said to be more effective against a strain of the virus that is dominant in South Africa.
Vaccinations will be done in phases, with health care workers getting the jabs first. The second phase will include essential workers, teachers, elderly and those with comorbidities.
The third phase will include all other adults.