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Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now a total of 434,200 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 12,204 cases from the 421,996 infections reported on Friday.

The data shows that there are 312 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 6,655 casualties, with a 24-hour high of 572 deaths reported on Wednesday evening.

Dr Mkhize pointed to 263,054 recoveries to date. A total of 2.73 million tests have been conducted, with 46,324 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, the minister said.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 15.9 million people and killed more than 643,000 worldwide since late January, when it was first reported.

The outbreak spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan to more than 180 countries and territories—affecting every continent except Antarctica.

Efforts to stamp out the pneumonia-like illness have led to entire nations enforcing lockdowns, widespread halts of international travel, mass layoffs and battered financial markets.

Taxis

As South Africa grapples with the reintroduction of lockdown rules, question have been asked of government’s decision to allow taxis to run at full capacity.

While trips of less than 20 minutes in a vehicle with open windows are less risky, longer commutes without proper social distancing increase chances of infection, even with masks, says South African Medical Association chairwoman Angelique Coetzee.

“This decision was not made in the best interest of patients, but in the best interest of taxi unions,” Coetzee said. About 6% of infected commuters could end up hospitalized and among those, half could die, she said.

Still, taxis have a strong political voice.

The largely informal trade makes an estimated R50 billion ($3 billion) in annual revenue and accounts for 15 million commuter trips daily, according to data compiled by SA Taxi, a lender to the industry.

That compares with just under 1.5 million bus and train journeys, it said. During apartheid, it was one of the few industries open to black entrepreneurs.

While most drivers don’t pay income tax as they work informally, the industry does pay R7 billion annually in fuel levies, according to SA Taxi’s estimates.


Read: These areas are emerging coronavirus hotspots in South Africa right now: Discovery data

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