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South Africa: first 2 coronavirus deaths, cases top 1,000

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A South African uniformed Metro policeman (L) and a plainclothes one (R) try to enforce distancing outside a supermarket in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on March 27, 2020 where several dozens of customers are queuing for food without respecting the minimum safety distance. – South Africa came under a nationwide lockdown on March 27, 2020, joining other African countries imposing strict curfews and shutdowns in an attempt to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus across the continent. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

South Africa on Friday reported its first two deaths from the novel coronavirus outbreak as the number of confirmed cases breached the 1,000 mark, the government said.

“This morning we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

He said the two people died in the Western Cape province, as the country went under a nationwide 21-day lockdown that took effect at midnight.

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The minister promised to release more details later “when we announce the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases, which have increased from yesterday’s number and have tipped the 1,000 mark”.

On Friday, the country reported 927 confirmed cases, a more than 30 percent jump from the previous day.

In a bid to halt the spread, some 57 million people have been ordered to stay at home during the three-week total lockdown.

But many people defied the order — going about business as usual while some lined up outside food stores or queuing up for transport at bus terminals on Friday morning.

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