South Africa registered 17,493 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, its highest daily number since the start of the third wave of the pandemic this month, taking the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 1,861,065.

“A further 166 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 59,258 to date,” the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, said in a statement. 

The NICD said most of the new cases are from Gauteng province, which includes the capital Pretoria and largest city Johannesburg, accounting for 62% of infections, followed by the Western Cape at 10%. 

The average number of daily new infections has more than doubled in the country in the past two weeks from around 3,700 to over 8,000,  

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced new coronavirus restrictions to help the country curb the spread of the virus and save lives as it battles the third wave. 

Ramaphosa announced that due to the increase in infections, all gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. These include religious services, political events and social gatherings. 

South Africa, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent, announced that the wearing of face masks was compulsory. 

Attendance at funerals and cremations may also not exceed 50 people and all social distancing and health protocols must be observed. 

Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings are not allowed.

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