Published: 09:47, July 16, 2020 | Updated: 22:20, June 5, 2023
South Africa COVID-19 cases surpass 300,000
By Agencies

A woman walks past a closed liquor shop in Dunkeld, Johannesburg, on July 13, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

CAPE TOWN / RIO DE JANEIRO / DUBLIN / BUCHAREST / SAO PAULO / BRASILI - South Africa's COVID-19 cases on Wednesday reached 311,049, comprising about half of the cumulative number of confirmed cases on the African continent.

A total of 12,757 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

Meanwhile, 107 more deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 4,453.

The total number of recoveries stood at 160,693, with a recovery rate of 51.7 percent, the minister said.

Gauteng, the smallest but most populous province in the country, remained the epicenter of the pandemic with 112,714 cases, followed by Western Cape with 81,556 cases.

South Africa has become of one of the top 10 worst-hit countries in the pandemic, but its mortality rate is among the lowest globally.


Fewer COVID-19 patients are dying in intensive-care units, researchers found, indicating that hospitals are getting better at treating severe forms of the pandemic disease.

Overall mortality of COVID-19 patients treated in ICUs had fallen to just under 42 percent at the end of May from almost 60 percent in March. That’s according to the first systematic analysis of two dozen studies involving more than 10,000 patients in Asia, Europe and North America.

The fast spread of SARS-CoV-2, high caseload and proportion of patients requiring breathing support placed “unprecedented demand” on ICU services, researchers wrote in a study published Wednesday in the journal Anaesthesia. Countries in the later phases of the pandemic may now be coping better, they said.

The World Health Organization is collating data from countries to identify elements that reduce mortality, with a goal to create a toolbox of treatments that will enable doctors to provide better care for the full range of Covid-19 patients. The new study will add to the cumulative knowledge, said Sylvie Briand, the WHO’s director for global infectious hazard preparedness.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gives the thumb up while attending the flag unveiling ceremony at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on July 15, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)


Armenia on Thursday reported 554 new COVID-19 cases in the last day, bringing its total to 33,559, according to the National Center for Disease Control.

Official data showed that 583 more patients have recovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 21,931.

Meanwhile, 15 people have died from the disease over the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 607.


Namibia on Thursday recorded 72 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's cumulative confirmed cases to 1,032.

Namibia's Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said of the 72 new cases, one is from Windhoek, one from Katima Mulilo, two from Swakopmund and 68 from Walvis Bay.

Namibia currently has 999 positive active cases, 31 recoveries, and two deaths.


Belarus reported 180 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking its total to 65,623, according to the country's health ministry.

There have been 536 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 56,915, the ministry added.

So far, 485 people have died from the disease in the country, including five over the past 24 hours, it said.


Romania recorded an all-time daily high of 777 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, while the total number of confirmed cases reached 35,003, the Strategic Communication Group (GCS), the country's official COVID-19 communication task force, announced on Thursday.

This is the first time daily cases in the country have surpassed the 700-mark. The daily new cases had previously exceeded 600 on July 9, July 11, July 14 and July 15 respectively.

Nineteen people, 18 of them with comorbidities, have died of COVID-19 in Romania in the last 24 hours, raising the total to 1,971, announced the GCS.


Ghana confirmed 178 more infections of the novel coronavirus here late Wednesday, increasing its total case count to 25,430, said the latest update by the Ghana Health Service.

The number of patients discharged after treatment increased to 21,511, as authorities discharged 250 more cases.

The COVID-19 death toll in the West African country remained at 139, with 3,780 active cases.

Doctors and nurses wearing protective gear treat a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US on June 29, 2020. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)


Georgia on Thursday reported three new COVID-19 cases, taking its total to 1,006, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health said.

As of Thursday, 883 have recovered, while 15 others have died of the coronavirus disease, the center said.

The center said over 156,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the country reported its first case on Feb. 26.


 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday again extolled the supposed virtues of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19, as he said that he again tested positive for the coronavirus, a week after he first announced he had become infected.

“I was medicated from the beginning with hydroxychloroquine, with a doctor’s recommendation. I felt better the next day,” Bolsonaro said in a video posted on social media. “Whether it is a coincidence or not... it worked for me.”

Like close ally US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has been quick to sing the praises of hydroxychloroquine, despite scant scientific evidence that it works against the novel coronavirus.

Since catching the virus, Bolsonaro has said he remains in good health and that he would resume his normal work schedule once he tested negative.

On Wednesday, he appeared at a flag ceremony in the grounds of the presidential palace, wearing a mask and remaining at a distance from others. He said he would get tested again in a few days.

Brazil registered 1,233 new deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide count to 75,366, the country's health ministry said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 39,924 newly confirmed cases were reported, taking its total to 1,966,748, the ministry said.


COVID-19 has killed four Kenyan health workers and infected 450, the health ministry said on Wednesday, as word emerged of a slew of cases in Kenya’s biggest maternity hospital.

“Health workers handling patients with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus disease face an increased risk of exposure to the virus,” Rashid Aman, the chief administrative secretary at the ministry of health, told a news briefing.

At least 41 of the staff at Pumwani maternity hospital in the capital Nairobi have been infected, said Patrick Amoth, the acting director general of health at the health ministry, adding that the cases were mild.

“Nobody has gone to hospital for care, and we are hopeful that they will be able to pull through without developing any symptoms of COVID,” Amoth told the private Citizen TV on Tuesday.

Nairobi-based Doreen Lugaliki, who worked at a different Nairobi hospital, became Kenya’s first doctor to die of the virus last week.

There was no immediate comment from the doctors and nurses unions.

Kenya has confirmed 11,252 confirmed of the disease and 209 deaths, the ministry said.

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Coronavirus cases in the US increased 2 percent as compared with the same time Tuesday to 3.47 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase matched the average gain over the past week. Deaths rose 0.6 percent to 136,940.

Florida reported 301,810 cases, up 3.5 percent from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 4.5 percent in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 4,521, an increase of 112, or 2.5 percent,

Arizona reported 3,257 new cases, a 2.5 percent increase that was below the prior seven-day average gain of 2.9 percent. The state also reported 97 new deaths, the fifth increase in six days, bringing the toll to 2,434.

Montana cases rose 7.4 percent to 2,096 according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.

Walmart Inc will require customers to wear masks in all of its US stores to protect against the coronavirus, an admission that the nation’s pandemic has reached new heights and setting up potential confrontations with customers who refuse to don them.

The measure will go into effect starting July 20, US Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith said in a blog post Wednesday. Walmart’s decision follows similar moves by Costco Wholesale Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Best Buy Co.


Britain has not achieved a good outcome in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government's chief scientific adviser said on Thursday, adding that he was sure that mistakes had been made in the response to the crisis.

"It's very difficult to know exactly where we stand at the moment. It's clear that the outcome has not been good in the UK, I think we can be absolutely clear about that," Patrick Vallance told lawmakers, adding that some countries had done worse.

Another 85 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 45,053, the British Department of Health and Social Care said Wednesday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

As of Wednesday morning, 291,911 people have tested positive for the disease in Britain, a daily increase of 538, according to the department.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) that there will be an independent inquiry into Britain's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Republic of Moldova recorded Wednesday a daily high of 332 COVID-19 infection so far this month, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 20,040, announced secretary of state of the Ministry of Health Constantin Rimis.

As many as 1,982 biological samples have been tested in the country in the last 24 hours, of which 332 showed positive results, according to the official.

Meanwhile, four people died of COVID-19, raising the country's total to 659.


Egypt reported on Wednesday 913 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total cases registered in the country since mid-February to 84,843, said the health ministry.

It is the seventh consecutive day for Egypt's daily COVID-19 infections to be below 1,000 since May 28, with a record 1,774 infections seen on June 19.

Meanwhile, 59 patients died from the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, raising the death toll to 4,067, while 591 others were cured and discharged from hospitals, increasing total recoveries to 26,135, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.


The Albanian government has decided to make the use of masks mandatory in indoor spaces and will impose a fine of 2,000 Albanian lek (around US$18.4) to those who fail to respect the decision, Minister of Health and Social Protection Ogerta Manastirliu announced on Wednesday.

Via a video communication through Facebook, Manastirliu stated that this measure would help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

"Through today's government decision and normative act, the obligation to use non-medical masks or protective barriers to protect against COVID-19 transmission will be an obligation for every individual in all indoor spaces, in public and non-public administration, in public transport, offices, elevators, shopping malls, shops, supermarkets, markets and service units," Manastirliu said.

As of Wednesday, according to health authorities, 88 patients are being treated in the Infectious Disease Hospital in Tirana, of which 12 patients are in intensive care and four are in serious condition.

Over the last 24 hours, the health authorities have reported 85 new coronavirus cases and four COVID-19 related deaths, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 3,752, with 2,091 recoveries and 101 fatalities.  


Azerbaijan on Wednesday registered 559 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 25,672, the country's operational headquarters for COVID-19 prevention and control said.

So far, 16,695 people have recovered, including 545 new recoveries over the last 24 hours, according to the headquarters.

Meanwhile, seven people died in the period, raising the death toll to 326.


Portugese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday that the country needs to prepare "now" for a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic next winter.

"We cannot repeat the confinement we had to impose during the period of the state of emergency and in the following weeks because society, families, and people will not be able to bear it again," said the prime minister in a speech during an event in the Park of Nations in Lisbon.

 "We may not be able to do everything, but we have to work and do as much as possible to ensure the functioning of society, schools, companies and public administration services," he warned after announcing the program "Simplex 20-21" for digital transformation in public services.

According to the prime minister, it is necessary to "speed up the processes" because the colder seasons of the year will be "as or more difficult" than the beginning of the pandemic.

Portugal recorded eight more deaths caused by COVID-19 and 375 new cases of infection in the last 24 hours, bringing the total victims to 1,676 and the total cases to 47,426, respectively. 


Serbia's COVID-19 response team decided on Wednesday to impose mandatory wearing of face masks and ban gatherings at the national level, after the country witnessed an alarming number of new patients.

The Serbian government stated in a press release after the meeting of the COVID-19 response team that the new nationwide mask and gathering measures will be put in force on Friday in order to suppress the second wave of the epidemic.

Healthcare institutions across Serbia have been once again turned into COVID-19 hospitals, while more temporary facilities are being adapted or built to receive new patients.

In the past 24 hours, Serbia reported 351 newly confirmed cases, taking the total number of active cases to 4,858.

Since the pandemic started in March, 19,334 people have been infected with the coronavirus, 429 of whom have died.

READ MORE: France to make wearing masks in public spaces mandatory


A Russian military hospital discharged the first group of 18 volunteers in a vaccine trial after a 28-day observation period, calling the initial phase a success, according to an emailed statement from the Defense Ministry.

The group had no health complaints, complications or adverse reactions to the vaccine, according to the statement. They will come back for further tests on the 42nd day after their first vaccination.


Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced on Wednesday night that the government's planned move to phase 4 of reopening society and business has been postponed till Aug. 10 due to the rise of the reproduction rate in the country over recent weeks.

He said in a statement that that the reproduction rate or the R number, which refers to the number of people infected by a virus carrier, has now risen over 1 compared with about 0.5 recorded a few weeks ago.

"The priority now must be to get that R number back below 1," he said, adding that by doing so the country will have the best chance possible to fully reopen schools in late August.

To achieve the target, the government has decided to take five additional measures with immediate effect on Wednesday, he said.

The five measures include compulsory wearing of face coverings by all customers in shops and shopping centers, demanding pubs, bars, hotel bars, casinos and nightclubs to remain closed until Aug 10, limiting the number of visitors to people's homes to a maximum of 10, extending restrictions on indoor gathering of no more than 50 people and outdoor gathering of no more than 200 people until Aug. 10,  and continuing to advise against all non-essential overseas travel.


Germany tightened travel rules to prevent outbreaks of the coronavirus as the summer vacation season gets under way. Federal and state officials agreed to more stringent restrictions, but stopped short of a complete ban on travel to and from domestic hot spots.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 534 to 200,260, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,078, the tally showed.


Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he’s in no doubt his country’s highly controversial strategy for fighting COVID-19 remains appropriate.

Lofven, who has seen his popularity flag as Sweden’s decision not to impose a proper lockdown was followed by a spike in deaths, said he still thinks “the strategy is right, I’m completely convinced of that,” according to an interview with Aftonbladet.

The comments follow signs that, despite much higher rates of exposure to the coronavirus in Sweden than in many other places, immunity remains elusive. Meanwhile, Sweden’s mortality rate per 100,000 is higher than that in the US.

Far greater numbers of Swedes have tested positive for COVID-19 than elsewhere in the Nordic region. But Sweden remains a long way off achieving so-called herd immunity, according to the latest data.


Authorities ordered people to start wearing face masks in parts of the northwestern French region of Mayenne on Thursday after a rise of coronavirus infections there.

The Mayenne prefecture said masks would be compulsory in its main city Laval as well as five other municipalities - Bonchamp-lès-Laval, Changé, L’Huisserie, Louverné and Saint-Berthevin.

“In Mayenne, the situation is problematic today”, French health minister Olivier Veran told France Inter radio.

The announcement came ahead of a nationwide order making masks compulsory in all enclosed public spaces across France from Aug. 1.

Up to now, France has required people to wear face coverings on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, but has not mandated the wearing of masks in shops.


Italy on Thursday banned people coming from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro from entering its territory to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases from the outside.

“Anyone who has been in these territories in the last 14 days is prohibited from entry and transit in Italy. In the world the epidemic is in its hardest phase. We need the maximum caution to defend the progress we have made so far,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

Last week Italy had already banned entry to people coming from 13 countries, including Brazil, that it said presented an excessive rate of COVID-19 infections.


Ukrainians are fed up with the coronavirus lockdown and the government should be cautious about extending it beyond August, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

“Everyone is tired of this quarantine,” the presidential press service quoted him as telling government officials.

Ukraine imposed strict restrictions in March but partially eased them in May to allow economic recovery.