JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s health minister on Wednesday warned the country could impose another strict lockdown if coronavirus infections and deaths continue to rise in the country. 

“If, in the future, there is a need for another lockdown, we will not hesitate to go that route. Right now, there is no such a decision taken,” Zweli Mkhize said in an interview with South African broadcaster talk Radio 702.

South Africa, which had one of the most strict lockdown regulations in the world, last month partly lifted its three-month nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Prior to the relaxation of COVID-19 regulations, only essential workers were allowed to leave their homes to work. Citizens were also restricted from exercising outside their homes or going to places of worship.

On Tuesday, South Africa announced 6,945 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed cases in the country to 151,209, the highest in the African continent.

The country also reported a further 128 virus-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 2,657.

South Africa has so far tested 1.6 million people for the virus since it was first detected in the country three months ago.

The number of recoveries stands at 73,543, which translates to a recovery rate of 48.6%.

Public transport vehicles were also allowed to start operating at 70% load as long as passengers adhere to the rules of social distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing.

But operators have threatened to load 100%, saying a government relief fund offered to the industry to help them is not enough.

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