South Africa’s coronavirus cases have passed 200,000, the highest total in Africa, as Kenya’s leadership announced that it was pressing on with plans to ease the country’s lockdown despite a steep increase in cases.
There are currently 205,721 cases and 3,310 deaths in South Africa, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which relies on official government data, making it the 15th worst-affected country worldwide.
South Africa’s Times newspaper reported that the country’s cases have increased by almost 160,000 in the last month alone.
Despite imposing some of the strictest lockdown measures worldwide in late March, South Africa on Saturday reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily jump on record for the country. Lockdown measures are gradually being eased.
The government in Gauteng province, home to Johannesburg, has asked the government to reimpose hard lockdown, but on Friday president Cyril Ramaphosa told media that there were no plans to move back into stricter lockdown.
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, on Monday announced a “phased reopening” of the country, with the resumption of international flights from 1 August as well as the lifting of internal travel restrictions.
The move comes as pressure mounts to kickstart the country’s ailing economy after nearly four months of coronavirus restrictions that have devastated key industries such as tourism. Kenyatta said in a televised address that “international air travel into and out of the territory of Kenya shall resume effective 1 August 2020.”
Kenya has recorded more than 8,000 cases of the virus and 164 deaths – the highest official figures in East Africa – and has seen a steep increase in numbers in recent weeks, with a fatality rate of 2.09%.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has extended its coronavirus health emergency on for 15 days, the sixth extension since March, with some lawmakers voicing concern about the effect on the economy. Officials lifted the ban on internal flights last week, but all other measures remain in place in a country that has recorded 182 deaths from 7,432 infections.
Flights in New Zealand will be limited as the government seeks to ease pressure on its quarantine regime – international arrivals are quarantined for 14 days to ensure Covid-19 does not enter the community – by rationing the return of citizens to the country. Jacinda Ardern’s government has struck a deal with Air New Zealand to limit the number of places available for international arrivals, given the strain on compulsory isolation facilities.
Australia’s fight against a new outbreak of the virus in Victoria continued, as 191 new cases were confirmed, breaking yesterday’s record for the state of 127 new cases in a single day. The state government was reported to be considering a month-long lockdown centred on the capital, Melbourne.
Cases continue to soar in the United States as the country’s total – the worst worldwide – approaches 3 million, more than a quarter of the global total. The US death toll passed 130,000 on Monday.
Globally, there are 11,592,259 known cases and 537,487 deaths.
New cases dropped below 50,000 for the second day in a row, after three consecutive days above the mark, according to Johns Hopkins University data. But states continue to see surging cases and hospitalisations. The LA Times reports that California’s new daily cases have averaged more than 7,000 over the last week. The Associated Press reports that statewide, coronavirus hospitalisations have increased 56% in the past two weeks while the number of confirmed cases has jumped 53%.
In Los Angeles County, where one quarter of the state’s population lives, people between the ages of 18 and 40 now account for 25% of all coronavirus hospitalisations up from about 10% in April.
Hospital beds are full in parts of Texas, while calls for fresh stay-at-home orders are growing. Some mayors say their cities reopened too early, as president Donald Trump tries to downplay the disease that has gripped much of the country.
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday that she had tested positive for Covid-19. Bottoms tweeted, “Covid-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.”
Other key developments in the pandemic include:
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said on Monday that he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the Covid-19 respiratory disease that it causes, Reuters reports.
In China, Beijing city reported zero new coronavirus cases. China reported eight new coronavirus cases in the mainland for 6 July, up from four a day earlier, the health authority said. All of the new infections were imported cases, involving travellers entering China from abroad.
China’s Sinovac Biotech is starting Phase III trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine in Brazil, it said on Monday, becoming one of three companies to move into the late stages in the race to develop an inoculation against the disease.
Israel has reimposed certain restrictions after a surge in cases, to avoid a wider lockdown that could devastate the economy. Bars, nightclubs, gyms and event halls have been closed.