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People queue for vaccinations at a site in Johannesburg. Picture: BLOOMBERG
People queue for vaccinations at a site in Johannesburg. Picture: BLOOMBERG

SA recorded 18,035 daily coronavirus cases as a fourth wave of infections fuelled by the omicron variant rips through the nation.

The country also recorded 19,840 “retrospective” positive test results that had not been included in earlier totals, the data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) showed in a statement on Sunday. Of the tests conducted on Sunday, 28.9% were positive.

The high rate of infections comes as the 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 SA will lift the restrictions. PwC estimates the bans could cost the country as much as R6.5bn 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. It recorded 42% of the new cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 16% and the Western Cape tallying 13%.

SA’s official death toll of more than 90,000 and about 3.2-million cases make it the country hardest hit by the virus in Africa, though testing and accurate recording of the causes of fatalities is weak across much of the continent. A number of neighbours, including Zimbabwe, are also in the grip of a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and vaccine rollouts are slow.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

Correction: 13 December 2021

An earlier version of this story stated that daily new cases had soared to a record 37,875 on Sunday, the correct number is 18,035.

The provincial breakdown was also incorrect, a previous version of the story said Gauteng recorded 44% of the new cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 16% and North West at 6%. The correct breakdown is: Gauteng 42%, KwaZulu-Natal 16% and Western Cape 13%.

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