South Africa recorded 3,751 new coronavirus cases in a day, taking the country’s total to 1,466,767, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said late Thursday. 

Mkhize said 261 more people had died of the virus, pushing the number of confirmed fatalities to 45,605. 

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

South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths on the continent and is the 15th most affected country in the world.  

The country has conducted at least 8.4 million tests for COVID-19 since it first detected the virus last March. 

At least 1.3 million people have recovered from the disease, representing a recovery rate of 90.5%. 

On Monday, South Africa received its first consignment of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the arrival of the vaccines holds the promise that the country can turn the tide on the disease, which has caused so much devastation and hardship across the world. 

Health care workers in both the public and private sectors will be prioritized for vaccination in the first phase. 

The president said essential workers, people over 60 years old and people with comorbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels will be prioritized in the second phase. 

“In Phase 3, we will extend the vaccination program to the rest of the adult population,” he confirmed.

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