South Africa passes one million infections as cases surge

South Africa has become the first country on the continent to record more than one million Covid-19 cases.

The numbers come days after authorities confirmed that a variant of the coronavirus has been detected and is spreading faster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is widely expected to announce tougher restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Last week, South Africa recorded a daily average of 11,700 new infections - a rise of 39% on the previous week - and from Wednesday to Friday, the daily number of new cases was above 14,000.

Earlier this week, the UK banned travel from South Africa because of the new variant.

The country's health ministry says most of the new infections have been amongst those aged between 15 and 19 years.

This is believed to be due to a large number of big celebrations in recent weeks, some of them held to mark the end of exams and of the academic year.

After South Africa, the worst hit country on the African continent is Morocco, which has seen 432,079 cases and 7,240 deaths. They are followed by Egypt with 131,315 cases and 7,352 deaths and Tunisia with 130,230 infections and 4,426 deaths.

Africa accounts for 17% of the global population, but approximately 3% of reported pandemic deaths. In South Africa, the official death toll stands at more than 23,000, although experts believe the true figure - as indicated by total excess deaths - is likely to be considerably higher.