South Africa recorded 1,897 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the nationwide number to 712,412, according to its health minister. 

“Regrettably, we report 48 COVID-19 related deaths today. This brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 18,891,” Zweli Mkhize said at a daily update. 

The top health official said of the 48 deaths, seven occurred in the past 48 hours.

“We extend our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated the deceased patients,” he said.

The country’s recovery rate now stands at 90%, which is equivalent to 643,523 people.

South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 cases on the African continent and is the twelfth most affected country in the world after the UK, Mexico and Peru reported higher numbers.

Mkhize expressed concern about the climbing numbers of positive cases in South Africa.

“Over the past week, there has been an increase of 9.1% in new cases,” he said, with an increase of 10.7% in the last 14 days.

Mkhize urged residents to continue wearing face masks in public, wash hands frequently and practice social distancing.

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