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South Africa Passes Half a Million Coronavirus Cases

Αssociated Press

A masked mime artist performs for tips at a busy intersection in Johannesburg, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 as the country marks one hundred and twenty nine days days of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa exceeded half a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, even as President Cyril Ramaphosa said he sees “promising signs” that the rapid growth of cases is stabilizing and that the country’s strained health system is managing to cope in most areas.

South Africa's caseload represents more than 50% of all reported coronavirus infections in Africa’s 54 countries. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases Saturday night, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 503,290, including 8,153 deaths.

South Africa, with a population of about 58 million, has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world, behind the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India, all countries with significantly higher populations, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic worldwide is much higher than confirmed cases, due to limited testing and other reasons.

Ramaphosa, in a letter to the nation on Sunday, said that despite the high number of confirmed cases, he sees some positive developments, including that the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilizing in the provinces of the Western Cape, which includes Cape Town, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, which is home to Johannesburg and Pretoria.

South Africa’s hospitals have been stretched to the limit but in most provinces they are succeeding in providing treatment to COVID-19 patients, he said.