JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s Health Ministry reported 74 more coronavirus deaths late Thursday, bringing the country’s total number of fatalities to 1,284.

“We extend our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the healthcare workers who treated the deceased,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

Mkhize also said that 3,157 new cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number in the country to 58,568.

He said the country has so far tested 1,028,399 people for COVID-19, with nearly 30,000 tests done Thursday.

Despite the high numbers of cases and deaths, health experts continue to applaud South Africa’s mass testing campaign.

“The recoveries to date are 33,252. This translates to a recovery rate of 56.8%,” he said.

The Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces remain the country’s epicenter of the virus, reporting a high number of cases and deaths daily.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Regional Office said Thursday that more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed so far on the continent with over 5,600 deaths.

“The pandemic is accelerating – it took 98 days to reach 100,000 cases [in Africa] and only 19 days to move to 200,000 cases,” it warned in a statement.

The WHO said 10 out of 54 countries on the continent are currently driving the rise in numbers, accounting for nearly 80% of all cases.

“More than 70% of the deaths are taking place in only five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan,” it said.

South Africa is the most affected country, accounting for 25% of the continent’s total cases.

The health body also revealed that more than half of the countries on the continent are experiencing COVID-19 community transmission.

“In many cases, this is concentrated in capital cities, but cases are spreading into the provinces,” it said.

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