The figures also reduce the chance that more than 90 nations that banned travel to and from South Africa will lift the restrictions. PwC estimates the bans could cost the country as much as 6.5 billion rand ($407 million) 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, the province where Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, are located. It recorded 42% of the new cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 16% and the Western Cape tallying 13%.
South Africa’s official death toll of over 90,000 and about 3.2 million cases make it the country hardest hit by the virus in Africa, although testing and accurate recording of the causes of fatalities is weak across much of the continent. A number of its neighbors, including Zimbabwe, are also in the grip of a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and vaccine rollouts are slow.