South Africa’s Virus Cases Surge the Most Since January

The number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa surged by 8,881 on June 9, the biggest jump in infections in about five months.

The nation also reported a positivity rate of 16.5% on tests conducted, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases. Africa’s most-industrialized economy reported 12,271 cases on Jan. 24, according to the World Health Organization.

“The increased number of tests and cases, and increased positivity are all evidence of the predicted third surge in Covid-19 cases,” the agency said in a statement on Wednesday. The commercial hub of Gauteng accounted for 58% of the new cases.

While South Africa has the highest number of infections on the continent, it is struggling to accelerate its vaccination drive. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is currently inoculating people over 60 years of age and, while more than 3 million people in that age group have registered to get the shots, vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson have been held up after ingredients were mixed up at a U.S. plant.

So far just 1.52 million people in the nation of 60 million have received a vaccine dose. Of those about 480,000 are health workers that received the single dose J&J vaccine, while the rest are elderly people who got the first of two doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine.

The country currently has the capacity to vaccinate about 150,000 people a day, but is working at below that rate because of the hold up with J&J vaccines.

Excess Deaths

The Western Cape province, where Cape Town is located, announced a site with the capacity to inject 4,000 people a day at a convention center, the first major vaccination venue of its kind in the province.

South Africa has had more than 57,000 deaths and 1.7 million confirmed infections. Still, that is suspected to be an undercount as the total number of excess deaths, a measure of the gap between the death rate and what would normally be expected, is now over 166,000 for the period.

In the last week that was analyzed there were almost 2,500 excess deaths, with just under 600 attributed to Covid-19. Scientists at the South African Medical Research Council say that almost all excess deaths are attributable to the coronavirus.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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