The number of new Covid-19 cases has remained relatively stable, the number of hospitalisations is declining, as is the number of deaths, while the national recovery rate stands at slightly higher than 95 percent.
SA has secured and arranged for enough Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccine doses for over 70 percent of the population while negotiating with manufacturers of other vaccines, including the Sinovac, Sinopharm and Sputnik V.
Registration to be vaccinated is scheduled to start in April with facilities for online and in-person registration, and mechanisms to vaccinate undocumented people are being developed.
The president has visited the Aspen Pharmacare local vaccine manufacturing facility in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.
Under the adjusted restrictions, the national curfew remains from midnight to 4am while the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited during the weekend and on Easter Monday
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday updated South Africans on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic, following a meeting of the National Coronavirus Council, the President’s Coordinating Council, and the Cabinet.
He began his address by paying tribute to Noxolo Grootboom, a legendary South African broadcaster and long-term anchor of the Xhosa Language News Bulletin on SABC.
“I wish to pay tribute to Ms Grootboom as an outstanding journalist who, throughout her distinguished career, brought historic events in our country and across the world into the living rooms of our nation.”
The president said in his speech that the measures put in place have recorded some improvement despite limiting “social interactions that make us feel part of a community.”
He announced that for the past two weeks, the number of new cases has remained relatively stable at around 1,200 new cases per day.
“The number of hospitalisations is declining, as is the number of deaths. Our national recovery rate stands at slightly higher than 95 percent.”
Ramaphosa also gave an update on the national vaccination programme. According to him, the first phase of the vaccination programme, targeting healthcare workers, would be completed within three months.
“We have secured 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which we know to be effective against the dominant variants in our country. We have secured a further 20 million doses and are finalising the agreement with Johnson & Johnson.
“We are also finalising an agreement for 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses. Together, this supply of vaccines will provide us with enough doses to vaccinate 41 million people,” Ramaphosa declared.
The president also stated that the government is currently negotiating with manufacturers of other vaccines, including China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm, and Russia’s Sputnik V.
“In addition to the vaccine doses we will receive directly through our agreements with manufacturers, we will also receive an allocation of vaccine doses through the African Union initiative that we established when we held the Chairship of the AU.”
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust has signed a procurement agreement on behalf of African Union member states for 220-million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with an option for an additional 180-million doses.
Phase 2 of the vaccination drive is scheduled to begin in mid-May, registration to be vaccinated is scheduled to start in April with facilities for online and in-person registration, while mechanisms to vaccinate undocumented people are being developed.
Local vaccine facility
The president gave news of his visit to the Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing facility in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.
In November, Aspen Pharmacare collaborated with Johnson & Johnson to establish the capacity required for the manufacturing of the vaccines in South Africa.
The president thanked the private healthcare sector, private enterprise working through the Solidarity Fund and the Vodacom Group for support with the vaccine drive.
“We commend the Vodacom Group and Vodafone Foundation, which have pledged R87 million in the African countries in which they operate for cold chain storage and logistics so that COVID-19 vaccines are delivered securely.
“In addition, Vodacom will be deploying a state-of-the-art vaccine management platform across the AU member states, following a successful roll-out of the same platform in South Africa,” he said.
Adjustments to Level 1 Restrictions
The president gave an update on the regulations instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the Easter weekend.
- The national curfew remains from midnight to 4am.
- Public recreational spaces such as beaches, parks and dams will remain open, subject to strict health protocols, such as social distancing and mask wearing.
- Funerals remain restricted to a maximum of 100 people and with a two-hour limit on services.
- The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 2 to 5 April.
- On-site sales at restaurants, shebeens and bars will be allowed, according to licensing conditions, up until 11pm.
- Religious gatherings over the Easter period will be restricted to a total number of 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.
- Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used.
- Congregants should not gather outside their usual places of worship, and people must go home and not sleep over after services.
- Interprovincial travel will still be permitted.
However, the president urged all South Africans to limit their travel as much as possible and to observe all the necessary health protocols if they cannot avoid travelling.
“We will review these measures on the size of gatherings within the next 15 days based on an assessment on the state of the pandemic and the extent of compliance with health protocols,” he added.
President Ramaphosa has updated the nation on the state of the pandemic over half a dozen times since he first slammed a 21-day lockdown on the country on March 23, 2020.
You may watch the president’s full address here: