Healthcare workers prepare to test patients for COVID-19 at the Lancet Laboratories in Johannesburg, Tuesday, June 22, 2021 AP
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday reimposed restrictions for two weeks to combat a surge in the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant.
The worst hit country on the continent "is facing a massive resurgence of infection," the president said in a televised address to the nation.
"Our health facilities are stretched to the limit... ICU beds are in short supply," he said as he placed the country on alert level four, just one level below a full lockdown.
He banned all gatherings, expect for funerals where numbers will be capped at 50, and also ordered a ban on the sale of alcohol.
Eateries and restaurants can no longer serve sit-down meals, and will only be allowed to sell food for take-away or delivery.
A nighttime curfew has been lengthened by an hour.
Authorities say the peak of the third wave -- fuelled by the Delta variant first identified in India -- will surpass that of earlier waves as the country struggles to quickly roll out vaccinations.
"We are in the grip of a devastating wave that by all indications seems like it will be worse than those that preceded it.
"The peak of this third wave looks set to be higher than the previous two," he said.
South Africa now counts 1,928,897 cases after recording 15,036 cases on Sunday, a drop from the previous day when 18,762 new infections were diagnosed
At least 59,900 of those cases have been fatal.