July 10, 2020 / 9:53 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Premier of South Africa's Gauteng province tests positive for COVID-19

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JOHANNESBURG, July 10 (Reuters) - The premier of Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, said on Friday he had tested positive for COVID-19, as new confirmed infections in the country hit a record high.

Provincial leader David Makhura revealed his infection a day after his health department said six members of its “COVID-19 War Room” had contracted the virus. Makhura and the six officials will self-isolate for two weeks.

“Given the fact that I only have mild symptoms, I will continue to ensure that the Provincial Executive Council and Provincial Coronavirus Command Council respond adequately to weather the storm of the pandemic,” Makhura said in a statement.

South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus infections have been accelerating in recent weeks as lockdown restrictions are eased. Cases rose by 13,000 to 238,339 on Thursday, the biggest single-day rise since the outbreak began.

Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, is now the epicentre with nearly 82,000 cases.

Two other provincial premiers, of Western Cape and the North West province, have tested positive for the virus.

Johannesburg, considered the continent’s centre for finance and commerce, attracts hundreds of thousands of job seekers and migrants yearly. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Peter Graff)

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