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Hundreds of people line up to collect food at a distribution center in the informal Itereleng settlement in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday May 20, 2020, when the country was serving 55 days of government-ordered social confinement to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo / Phil Magakoe)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Confirmed cases of coronaviruses in South Africa doubled in just two weeks to a quarter of a million, while India recorded its highest peak in one day on Saturday, reaching a total of more than 800,000 infected. Concerns about inequality are growing: The pandemic especially affects the poor, and some of the wealthy are accumulating equipment in their homes. On the front lines of battle, health workers seek better protection.

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A minibus driver, wearing a face mask, drives through the Kwa-Thema neighborhood in eastern Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (AP Photo / Themba Hadebe)

Globally, the virus that causes COVID-19 has infected more than 12 million people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. More than half a million have died. The shortage of materials for diagnostic tests and faulty data collection in some countries mean that the actual numbers are even higher.

Some of the worst affected nations are among those with the largest gap between rich and poor. In South Africa, the pandemic has exposed that gap.

In Johannesburg, the most populous city in South Africa, it is difficult to find oxygen concentrating equipment, which helps people with COVID-19 breathe, as many private companies and wealthy people are hoarding them, Lynne Wilkinson, an Associate Press, told The Associated Press Public health specialist who volunteers as a field hospital.

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Health workers arrive to examine people for symptoms of COVID-19 in a neighborhood in Mumbai, India on Friday, July 10, 2020. (AP Photo / Rafiq Maqbool)

Meanwhile, public hospitals are low on medical oxygen, and have a higher death rate than private ones, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases reported.

South Africa now has more than 250,000 confirmed cases, including more than 3,800 deaths. To complicate matters, the country’s public energy company announced new power cuts in the middle of the southern winter as a cold front brings icy temperatures. Many of the urban poor live in junk and wood shacks.

More than 8,000 health workers in Africa have been infected, half of them in South Africa. The 1.3 billion continent has the lowest levels of health personnel in the world and more than 550,000 cases, and the pandemic is advancing « at full speed », according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa.

Many parts of the world are now struggling to find a balance between resuming their economic activities or at risk of flare-ups of infections.

In India, which reported a new daily high of 27,114 cases on Saturday, nearly a dozen states have imposed partial closures in high-risk areas. An increase in infections caused cases to jump from 600,000 to more than 800,000 in nine days. The total number of infected is now 820,916.

The number of new confirmed cases raised the national total to 820,916. The Ministry of Health also reported 519 additional deaths for a total of 22,123.

Infected people are filling public hospitals, as many cannot afford private ones, which generally maintain higher standards of care.

Nearly a dozen states will order partial closings in high-risk areas.

Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state with nearly 230 million residents, imposed a shutdown over the weekend, while several others announced restrictions in districts reporting major spikes.


Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.