Mexico becomes fifth-hardest hit country in pandemic
Mexico's death toll from the new coronavirus rose to 30,366 Saturday, propelling it past France to become the country with the fifth-highest number of fatalities in the global pandemic, according to the health ministry.
"As of today, 30,366 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the laboratory have died," Jose Luis Alomia, national director of the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, told a press conference.
The US remains the hardest-hit country in the world, followed by Brazil, Britain and Italy, according to an AFP tally of official figures.
Alomia also reported 252,165 confirmed cases of the virus, with the number of infections rising by 6,914 since Friday -- a record daily figure since COVID-19 reached Mexico.
The Latin American country, with 127 million inhabitants, had surpassed Spain in the number of deaths last Wednesday.
In the Americas, the epicenter of the pandemic, it is the third-most affected country after the US and Brazil.
At the end of May, Hugo Lopez Gatell, the deputy health minister in charge of the fight against the pandemic, told AFP in an interview that if containment measures were not taken, the number of deaths could rise to about 30,000.
Mexico City, the capital, is the urban center most affected by the disease -- but that has not prevented municipal authorities from starting a partial economic reopening at the beginning of July.
US records 43,742 new cases
The United States notched more than 43,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed Saturday, amid a surge of infections around the country.
The Baltimore-based university's tracker showed 43,742 more cases as of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Sunday), bringing the country's total number of cases since the pandemic began to 2,836,764.
The university also recorded a further 252 fatalities, bringing the total death toll to 129,657.
The uptick in cases came after three consecutive days of record numbers of new infections, including a high of 57,683 on Friday.
Saturday's lower number could be attributed to less reporting on the July 4th national holiday.
The United States is the hardest-hit country in the global pandemic, both in caseload and deaths.
President Donald Trump on Saturday accused China -- where the outbreak originated -- of a cover-up that allowed the illness to race across the globe, but hailed American "scientific brilliance."
"We'll likely have a therapeutic and or vaccine solution long before the end of the year," he said.
South Africa reports 10,000 new infections
Daily tallies released by the health ministry showed 10,853 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the cumulative tally since March when the virus first arrived in the country to 187,977.
The death toll stands at 3,026 after 74 new fatalities were recorded.
Health authorities have been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed on March 27.
With the nation's economy projected to shrink more than seven percent in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic -- the worst slump in 90 years -- the government is battling to strike a balance between saving lives and the economy.
"What we have been seeking to do is to balance... saving lives of our people and also preserving livelihoods, and it's a delicate balance," President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.
Ghana president self-isolates despite negative test
Ghana's president has gone into self-isolation for two weeks as a precautionary measure despite testing negative for coronavirus, the government said, after one of his contacts was confirmed to have the illness.
President Nana Akufo-Addo began his quarantine on Saturday and will be working from the presidential villa in Accra, capital of the West African country, the information minister said in a statement.
"The president has elected to do so after at least one person within his close circle tested positive for COVID-19," the minister said.
"(The president) has, as (of) today, tested negative, but has elected to take this measure out of the abundance of caution."
Ghana has reported more than 19,300 cases of the new respiratory disease and 117 deaths, and has lifted its strict lockdown although social-distancing measures remain in place.
The announcement came a day after the presidency said a junior minister had resigned for failing to self-isolate after testing positive.
There was no official indication the events were linked.
Since the pandemic erupted, a number of senior political figures worldwide have caught the disease, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalised and has now recovered.
Senegal's President Macky Sall also went into a preventative quarantine last month, despite testing negative, after coming into contact with a coronavirus case.