Almost 10 months after the first coronavirus case was detected in South Africa, the official death toll of those diagnosed with the disease has breached the 40,000 mark.
The country now has almost 1.4 million confirmed cases — more than triple the number of any other African nation. That may in part be due to the fact that it has conducted almost 7.9 million tests, way more than its continental peers.
Even so, there have been testing constraints and both the number of infections and fatalities released by South Africa’s Health Ministry remain considerably understated — as evidenced by excess-death reports published by the South African Medical Research Council.
A second wave of infections has largely been driven by a new strain of the virus that studies show is about 50% more transmissible than earlier versions.
The test positivity rate has however slowed over the past week to 19%, from a peak of 35%, and there had been a promising decline in hospital admissions, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday.