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Some 24,000 health workers in South Africa have contracted the coronavirus, 181 of whom have died, since the pandemic hit the country in March, the health minister announced on Wednesday.
South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa with at least 521,318 infections diagnosed so far, accounting for more than half the continent's cases.
Health Minister Zweli Mkwize told a news conference that the numbers of health workers who tested positive for coronavirus stood at 24,104 with 181 deaths.
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The numbers of infected health care workers translates to around five percent of the country's total caseload, compared to the global rate of some 10 percent, he said.
The country's caseload has been rising rapidly in recent weeks.
Health authorities have been expecting a surge in infections after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed on March 27, during the early stage of the pandemic.
South Africa now sits in the top five globally in terms of the number of infections.
Thirty percent of South Africa’s more than 177,000 cases are now in Gauteng province, which contains Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
Africa’s health systems are the most poorly funded and thinly staffed in the world, and already more than 2,000 health workers have been infected by the virus, according to the WHO.
South Africa has counted nearly 50,000 cases of the new coronavirus - the most of any country in sub-Saharan Africa - along with almost 1,000 deaths.
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