South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Thursday said the country reported registered 2,007 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a 24-hour period, taking the total number of infections to 644,438, reported Anadolu Agency.
Mkhize said 97 more people had died of COVID-19, taking the death toll to 15,265, while a total of 573,003 people had recovered.
The Western Cape province has recorded the highest number of deaths at 4,022, followed by Gauteng province, which includes the capital Pretoria and Johannesburg, with 3,881.
South Africa has reported the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the continent and is the eighth most affected country globally. But new figures show that cases of COVID-19 have started declining in the country. The total number of tests conducted so far is nearly 3.9 million, with 20,555 tested in the last 24 hours.
In related news, during an international health meeting on Thursday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that clinical testing for COVID-19 vaccines needs to include African populations to ensure they are appropriate for Africans.
“It is essential that African countries benefit from the vaccines being developed,” Ramaphosa said at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first high-level meeting of the Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
The South African president co-chaired the meeting alongside Norwegian Prime Minister Ema Solberg.
Ramaphosa, who is also chairperson of the African Union, said the world cannot achieve universal health coverage when a COVID-19 vaccine is available only to developed countries that are well-resourced in research, manufacturing, distribution, and service.
“As long as someone in the world has the new coronavirus, however remote they may be, we are all at risk from the resurgence of COVID-19,” he said.
The South African leader needs to move swiftly to ensure everyone has access to a vaccine at the same time it is produced. He said countries must support current global initiatives to fund COVID-19 vaccines.