South Africa recorded 18 035 daily coronavirus cases as a fourth wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant rips through the nation.
The country also recorded 19 840 “retrospective” positive test results that hadn’t been included in earlier totals, the data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases showed in a statement on Sunday. Of the tests conducted on Sunday, 28.9% were positive.
The continued high rate of infections comes as the nation’s economy contracted more than expected in the third quarter and the unemployment rate surged to a new high of 34.9%. That will make it difficult for President Cyril Ramaphosa to place the country on a stricter form of lockdown when his meets with his cabinet to discuss the issue.
The figures also reduce the chance that more than 90 nations that banned travel to and from South Africa will lift the restrictions. PwC estimates the bans could cost the country as much as R6.5 billion ($407 million) in potential foreign revenue, placing pressure on growth in the fourth quarter.
Most of the infections with the variant have so far been in Gauteng, the province where Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, are located. It recorded 42% of the new cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 16% and the Western Cape tallying 13%.
South Africa’s official death toll of over 90 000 and about 3.2 million cases make it the country hardest hit by the virus in Africa, although testing and accurate recording of the causes of fatalities is weak across much of the continent. A number of its neighbours, including Zimbabwe, are also in the grip of a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and vaccine rollouts are slow.