JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s health minister announced 143 new COVID-19 related deaths late Monday, bringing the country’s total number of fatalities to 11,982.   

Zweli Mkhize said they also registered 2,541 new cases, with confirmed infections now totaling 589,886.  

“Recoveries now stand at 477,671, which translates to a recovery rate of 80%,” Mkhize said.  

He said the country had conducted 3.4 million tests for the virus, with 15,032 carried out in the past 24 hours.  

The tourism province of Western Cape, home to Cape Town, is the most affected with 3,612 deaths reported, followed by Gauteng province, which includes the capital Pretoria and Johannesburg, with 2,929 deaths.  

Eastern Cape Province has 2,567 deaths and KwaZulu-Natal 1,686 deaths. The remaining five provinces have less than 1,000 deaths each.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Saturday that the spread of the novel coronavirus was slowing in the country as he announced a further relaxation in lockdown restrictions.  

In March, South Africa implemented some of the world’s strictest lockdown regulations. Borders were shut, schools were closed and people were told to stay at home. Only essential workers were allowed outside.  

To recover from economic loss, South Africa started gradually easing restrictions from June 1, including the reopening of places of worship.
The country has also lifted a ban on the sale of alcohol, going to restaurants and staying at hotels, but restrictions on international travel as well as a curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. will remain in effect. 

 South Africa has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent and the fifth highest number globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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