South Africa reported a record 17,710 new daily Covid-19 cases days after control measures were implemented to slow a surging second wave of infections.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country since the start of the pandemic is 1,039,161 with 28,033 deaths, the health department said in a statement late Wednesday.

A positivity rate of 33% “remains a major concern,” it said. The number may be distorted by testing lags over the festive season.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on 28 December announced a renewed ban on alcohol sales, extended a curfew and mandatory wearing of masks in public.

The pandemic and restrictions imposed to contain it have devastated Africa’s most industrialized economy with the central bank forecasting that gross domestic product will contract 8% this year.

Recoveries in South Africa have reached 867,597, leaving a balance of 143,531 active cases.

Globally, there are now over 80.3 million confirmed cases of the virus, with deaths now over 1.77 million.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has urged South Africans to follow the new lockdown level 3 regulations, particularly the new stance on wearing masks. He said that not wearing a mask in public is now a criminal offence, and violators will be arrested and/or fined.

When wearing a mask it must cover the mouth and nose, he said.


Read: Lockdown level 3 isn’t as bad as last time – but what follows could be worse: analyst