June 5, 2020 / 1:57 PM / a month ago

South Africa's COVID-19 cases rise and president worries about Cape Town region

FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment facilities at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa April 24, 2020. Jerome Delay/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Even as South Africa eases its coronavirus lockdown, infection numbers have started to rise quickly and President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday he was particularly concerned about the province around Cape Town.

Western Cape, whose Table Mountain and wine tours make it a leading tourist destination, has become the country’s main coronavirus hotspot, with around two-thirds of the country’s total 40,792 cases. It has also recorded 651 out of the country’s total of 848 deaths.

South Africa recorded its largest daily jump of cases on Thursday, with 3,267 new cases.

Ramaphosa visited Cape Town on Friday to be briefed on efforts to tackle the virus, including the opening of a new temporary field hospital for mild to moderately sick patients.

“The Western Cape is the epicentre for COVID-19 infections and this concerns us deeply,” he said.

The government is expecting an escalation of cases ahead of a predicted August/September peak and rising community infection rates in densely-packed poor townships. But it is struggling with shortages of test kits, healthcare staff and hospital beds.

“We must increase the number of beds ... It’s better to over provide than to under provide because the worst is still to come,” Ramaphosa said.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Frances Kerry

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