South Africa’s resurgence of COVID-19, centred in Johannesburg and driven by the delta variant, is setting record numbers of new daily cases, health officials said Sunday.
More than 26,000 new cases were reported on Saturday, up from 24,000 the previous day, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, surpassing the country’s highest number of new cases in previous waves and quickly bringing many hospitals to capacity.
More than 13,800 COVID-19 patients are currently in South African hospitals where some facilities are cancelling elective surgeries to free up beds and health workers.
South Africa’s official death toll has risen above 63,000, although statistics on excess deaths suggest the country’s actual number of virus fatalities may be more than 170,000.
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South Africa’s two million cases account for more than 30 per cent of the cases reported by Africa‘s 54 countries, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week increased restrictions to try to reduce the spread of the virus, including extending a nighttime curfew, banning the sale of alcohol, closing many schools and stopping travel into and out of Gauteng — the country’s most populous province that includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
Gauteng accounts for more than 60 per cent of the new cases and officials fear other provinces and cities will soon follow.
After a slow start, South Africa’s vaccination drive is picking up pace but is still far behind developed nations. To date, more than 3.3 million of South Africa’s 60 million people have received at least one jab of the Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The inoculation campaign started with health care workers, those aged 60 and over and schoolteachers. On Monday police can get a jab and soon those 50 and over can too.
The nation’s Health Products Regulatory Authority on Saturday authorized the vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac, providing that it submits final results of ongoing clinical studies.
Nearby countries including Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also struggling to cope with a surge of infections.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 3:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,416,969 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 6,159 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,360. More than 38 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country.
In British Columbia, 78.5 per cent of eligible residents have been administered their first COVID-19 vaccine shot. About 33 per cent of those eligible have received a second dose.
In Alberta, Calgary’s city council will re-evaluate the city’s mask mandate on Monday. The decision will be based on metrics like how many second doses have been administered and the rate of infection.
In June, council voted 8 to 6 in favour of extending the measure until July 5 in Calgary. The provincial government lifted its mask mandate for Alberta on July 1.
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Ontario logged 213 new cases and nine more deaths.
Starting Monday at 8 a.m., residents 12 to 17 years old will be eligible to book an appointment to receive their second shot of Pfizer through the provincial booking system. They must wait 28 days between doses, as recommended by the Ontario health ministry.
In Quebec, Gisele Levesque, the first person in Canada to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, has died. The 89-year-old died on June 28 peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by family, according to the public health authority in Quebec City.
In a statement, the health authority says her death was not related to COVID-19.
Levesque received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last Dec. 14 at the CHSLD St-Antoine, a long-term care home in Quebec City.
In the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia, which confirmed three new cases on Sunday, says international travellers can start entering the province again on Monday. New Brunswick saw one new infection and an additional death.
In Prince Edward Island, more than 82 per cent of eligible residents have been administered their first vaccine dose, with just under 24 per cent fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the numbers in Newfoundland and Labrador are at more than 78 per cent and nearly 40 per cent, respectively.
In the Northwest Territories, mask requirements and appointments at many Yellowknife institutions — such as the public library and pools — will be lifted on Monday.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 183.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.9 million.
In Asia, Indonesia is requiring foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated as one of the entry requirements.
In Europe, Russia on Sunday reported more than 25,000 new cases of coronavirus infection, the largest number since January, as the country faces a sharp surge over the past month.
In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the top infectious disease expert in the U.S. — says about 99.2 per cent of recent COVID-19 deaths in the United States involved unvaccinated people.
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