South Africa recorded 1,555 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a 24-hour period, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 661,211, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced late Sunday.

Mkhize said 13 more people died of COVID-19, putting the total number of fatalities at 15,953.

He further said they have conducted over 4 million COVID-19 tests since the first case was reported in the country in March.

“Our recoveries now stand at 590,071 people which translates to a recovery rate of 89.2%,” Mkhize announced.

For the past six weeks, South Africa has been experiencing a decline in cases, recording less than 2,000 daily infections.

Two months ago, it was recording about 12,000 cases daily.

Despite having the highest number of confirmed cases on the continent and being the eighth most affected country globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) commended South Africa for its determined efforts which have helped curb the spread of the virus.

The WHO said Thursday it is greatly encouraged by ongoing measures the nation has taken to suppress the spread of COVID-19.

“To tackle the pandemic, South Africa took decisive steps such as instituting response coordination mechanisms at all levels, setting up control interventions for all critical pillars of response and imposing public health and social measures including movement restrictions, curfews and the closure of businesses,” it said.

The global health body also said that strong public health measures put in place helped limit the exponential spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed the country to establish capacities for testing, isolation, treatment of cases and tracing as well as quarantining contacts.

The WHO praised the country’s commitment and leadership as strong pillars that have helped in combating the pandemic.

South Africa’s strong health system, research in health science and diagnostic capacity have also provided a steady foundation to the COVID-19 response in the country and the region, it said.

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