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Over 5,000 new COVID-19 infections, SA’s recovery stands at 69%

The counrty's coronavirus death toll now stands at 8,539 after 173 more deaths were reported in the last 24-hour cyle.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on 20 July 2020 inspects the Nasrec field hospital's state of readiness amidst the province's increase in coronavirus cases. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – One-hundred-and-seventy-three more people have died in South Africa after contracting the coronavirus, pushing the national death toll to 8, 539.

The health ministry said it picked up just over 5,000 new infections over the past 24-hour cycle, which brought the number of known cases since March to over 516,000.

The recovery rate stands at 69%, with 358,000 people recovering so far.

While the country grapples with the pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has again expressed concern about rampant corruption during the state of national disaster to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramaphosa said it was “difficult to understand the utter lack of conscience that leads a businessperson who has heeded the call to provide lifesaving supplies during a devastating pandemic to inflate the price of a surgical mask by as much as 900%”.

“Nor can one explain why a councillor would stockpile emergency food parcels meant for the poor for their own family, or why another councillor would divert water tankers en route to a needy community to their own home.

There are growing calls for the President to act decisively after high ranking officials were implicated in allegations of fraud and corruption linked to COVID-19 monies.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko took leave of absence after it emerged her husband, Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, was involved in the questionable awarding of a tender for the provision of personal protective equipment to the Gauteng Health Department.

Diko was soon followed by Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his MMC wife, Loyiso Masuku, who both took leave from their positions after allegations linking them to the Dikos PPE tender came to light.

WATCH: Allegations of relief funding corruption take centre stage

Ramaphosa said he would receive interim reports every six weeks on the cases at various stages of investigation and prosecution, saying when investigations yielded evidence of criminality, they would be speedily referred for prosecution.

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