ABUJA, Nigeria

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa surpassed 568,900 Wednesday after 2,810 new infections were reported.  

Some 259 people succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 11,010, while the number of recoveries stands at 432,029, according to the Health Ministry. 

South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the African continent and also has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world after the US, Brazil, India and Russia. 

The country imposed a strict lockdown in April and May that slowed the spread of the virus. 

It began a gradual reopening in June. But last month, as infection rates began to rise again, restrictions were reintroduced, including a ban on alcohol and cigarette sales to help free up needed hospital beds amid the pandemic. 

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 745,500 lives in 188 countries and regions since originating in Wuhan, China last December. 

More than 20.45 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries exceeding 12.66 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University. 

*Writing by Burak Dag

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