JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa’s Covid-19 infections surged to a record three million on Friday as a new wave driven by the Omicron variant rips through parts of the country, official figures showed.
The government on Friday reported 16,055 new cases over a 24-hour period, taking the cumulative laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,004,203. “This increase represents a 24.3 percent positivity rate,” the government run National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said in a daily update.
The majority of new cases reported on Friday, 72 percent, were detected in Gauteng province, the most populous of the country’s provinces.
Gauteng which hosts the capital Pretoria and the country’s economic and financial hub, Johannesburg, has emerged as the epicentre of the new variant since the new variant was first detected there last week.
A leading epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim had on Monday forecast that coronavirus cases in the continent’s worst hit country, could see daily infections more than treble this week to more than 10,000.
Gauteng province surpassed the projection, recording 11,553 cases on Friday. Other provinces recorded less than 1,000 cases each.
The sharp rise in infections is blamed on the highly contagious new Omicron strain which was first reported by South African scientists on November 25.
The numbers of fatalities however still remain relatively low, with 25 Covid-19 related deaths being reported on Friday, taking the death toll to 89,944 since the onset of the pandemic.