Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

South Africa reports 647 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours

Prominent minister Jackson Mthembu succumbs to coronavirus

Hassan Isilow   | 22.01.2021
South Africa reports 647 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours


South Africa recorded 647 coronavirus-related deaths in a 24-hour period, pushing the total number of confirmed fatalities to 39,501, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced late Thursday.  

Mkhize said 11,381 new infections were also detected in the same period after testing 58,540 samples, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed cases to 1,380,807.

He said the new deaths were recorded in the coastal province of Kwa-Zulu Natal with 154 fatalities, Eastern Cape with 139 deaths, and Gauteng (which includes Capital Pretoria and economic hub Johannesburg) with 93.

Other deaths were reported in the Free State province at 17, Limpopo 27, Mpumalanga 17, North West 55 and Northern Cape eight, while the tourism hub of Western Cape lost 137 people to COVID-19.

“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated these patients,” Mkhize said while delivering his daily COVID-19 report. 

Mkhize said South Africa has so far conducted nearly 8 million COVID-19 tests. Meanwhile, at least 1,183,443, people have recovered from the deadly respiratory illness, representing a recovery rate of 85.7%. 

South Africa, currently battling a second wave of the pandemic, has the highest number of cases and deaths on the continent. The nation is also the 15th most affected country globally. 

Prominent deaths

The novel coronavirus has killed many prominent people in South Africa, including members of royalty, legislators and health practitioners. On Thursday, the virus killed prominent politician Jackson Mthembu, a minister in the presidency. 

Mthembu, who worked his way through the ranks of the ruling African National Congress, has been minister since 2019. 

“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy,” South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement following the minister’s death. 

Ramaphosa said Mthembu was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade whose passing leaves the nation at a loss.

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