South Africa reported 174 more COVID-19 related deaths late Tuesday, one of its highest tallies in a 24-hour period, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,346.   

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that 10,496 new cases were recorded, putting the total number of infections at 298,292, with the total number of recoveries at 146,279. 

Gauteng province, which includes the economic hub of Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, has become the new coronavirus epicenter after recording over 100,000 cases. 

According to Mkhize, there were 82 COVID-19 related deaths in Gauteng in the past 24 hours, while the Western Cape recorded 44 new deaths and KwaZulu-Natal 27. 

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape reported 17 new deaths and the Northern Cape recorded four. 

“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the healthcare workers who treated the deceased,” Mkhize said. 

South African health officials expect an increase in infections as the country is currently in its winter season known for the influenza. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has advised South Africans to follow COVID-19 measures seriously. 

“Scientists and other scenario planners have presented us with models that project that South Africa may have between 40,000 and 50,000 deaths before the end of this year,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation Sunday night.  

“We must make it our single most important task to prove these projections wrong. Through our own actions – as individuals, as families, as communities – we can and we must change the course of this pandemic in our country.” 

The president advised South Africans to always wear a cloth mask that covers their nose and mouth whenever they leave their homes, sanitize and maintain social distancing. 

He said the country has been recording over 10,000 new cases every day, which is the equivalent of 500 new infections every hour.  

The South African leader also re-imposed an immediate ban on the sale of alcohol and imposed a curfew between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

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