After adding more than 138,000 confirmed cases in just two weeks, South Africa has emerged as Africa’s coronavirus hotspot , accounting for nearly half of the continent’s total cases, and becoming one of the top 10 infected countries in the world. South Africa, which in recent weeks has recorded more than 10,000 new infections a day, reported 298,292 cases as of Tuesday, as well as 4,346 coronavirus-related deaths. Those numbers constitute 48 per cent of the continent’s total 612,586 cases as of Tuesday, and almost a third of its 13,519 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention data. Gauteng province – home to Johannesburg as well as the South African capital, Pretoria – has 107,070 cases, the most in the country after overtaking Western Cape province, the initial epicentre, which now has 80,199. Authorities in Gauteng have warned that hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, as the cities are hit by widespread community transmission. In a statement on Monday, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa termed the Covid-19 pandemic the “gravest crisis in the history of our democracy”. He said the country had delayed the spread of the coronavirus through its nationwide lockdown, but that now, the surge in infections, “that we had been advised by our medical experts would come, has arrived”. “The storm is upon us.” Ramaphosa said that the government was working to free up ward capacity in hospitals by delaying non-urgent care. Ramaphosa said the country would once again ban the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol. In March, the country banned the sale of alcohol when it imposed a nationwide lockdown, but resumed sales last month when it eased restrictions. Besides the ban, Ramaphosa imposed a curfew between 9pm and 4am. South Africa is at the forefront of a growing number of countries in Africa that have recorded a rising number of Covid-19 cases after most eased social restrictions that had been imposed to curb the spread of the virus. South Africa may find the price of healing the economy is a surge in coronavirus cases Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa, said that the continent should expect the virus to continue to spread until a vaccine was developed and made available . Egypt is the second most-affected nation, with more than 83,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,000 related deaths. Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Morocco, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Sudan have also seen a surge in cases and have more than 10,000 cases each. “With more than a third of countries in Africa doubling their cases over the past month, the threat of Covid-19 overwhelming fragile health systems on the continent is escalating,” Moeti said. Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe also warned that his nation’s health care facilities were becoming overwhelmed. He said that the better-equipped hospitals in the capital city of Nairobi would not guarantee space for patients from other parts of the country.