Women receive bread at a food handout during the Eid al Adha at the ‘Hunger Has No Religion’ feeding scheme, in Johannesburg – KIM LUDBROOK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

South Africa has become the fifth nation to pass the grim milestone of half a million confirmed coronavirus cases, which account for more than 50 per cent of all Covid-19 infections on the continent of Africa.

Zwelini Mkhezi, the health minister, announced a further 10,107 new cases on Saturday, meaning that the Rainbow Nation now only tails the USA, Brazil, Russia and India by number of infections, despite having a significantly smaller population.

Despite the dizzying numbers, Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, said he sees “promising signs” that the alarming growth of cases is stabilising and the health care system in his country is coping in most areas.

In a letter to the nation on Sunday, Mr Ramaphosa said that despite the high number of confirmed cases, he sees some positive developments. Most notably, the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilizing in the provinces of the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

Gauteng province has become the latest epicentre of the outbreak. Home to the capital, Pretoria, and the largest city, Johannesburg, Gauteng now has 35 per cent of the nation’s cases. Health experts warn that hospitals are struggling to cope and that the virus may not peak until late August or early September.

People wearing protective face masks sit on their mats, with some social distance spaces observed between them, during Eid al-Adha prayers at the National Mosque, in Abuja, Nigeria – AFOLABI SOTUNDE/REUTERS

Meanwhile, the governor of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos announced that places of worship including churches and mosques will be allowed to reopen in a continued phased reopening of Africa’s most populous city.

“Places of worship in Lagos will now be opened from Friday, the 7th of August for our Muslim worshippers, and on Sunday, the 9th of August for our Christian worshippers,” Babajide Sanwo-Olu said in a statement.

“We will only allow 50 per cent of their maximum capacities, either at the church or at the mosque.”

However, the governor advised those over the age of 65 to remain at home and avoid these places of worship.

Lagos is the epicentre of Nigeria’s outbreak. The city of 20 million inhabitants has suffered 15,000 cases and 192 deaths so far.



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