The number of coronavirus cases in South Africa is continuing to rise since government moved the country to Level 1 of the lockdown.
Senior Researcher at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Dr Ridhwaan Suliman says the cases are increasing by 2% week-on-week, with major rises in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
Suliman says some localised outbreaks and COVID fatigue are responsible for the increase in cases:
“Over the last week, the number of new cases that we reported across the country has been just about 1200 cases on average per day. It’s shown a 2% increase week on week. While the increase is not drastic and certainly no cause for alarm, it is being driven by localised outbreaks in certain regions. What is clear is that the virus is still with us and although COVID fatigue is creeping in we still have a marathon race to run and the race is far from over.”
Dr Suliman has a discussion with SABC News
In the latest reporting cycle, some 1 051 new coronavirus cases and 29 deaths have been reported in the country. This brings the cumulative number of cases to 1 537 852 and 52 111 deaths.
The Department of Health says there are now 22 652 active cases in the country, most of them in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. The recovery rate remains at 95%.
Dr Suliman says South Africa needs to improve significantly on the speed of its coronavirus vaccine rollout to achieve herd immunity. Currently, only healthcare workers are being vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with the next phase of the rollout to essential workers, the elderly and people with co-morbidities only expected to start at the end of next month.
By last Thursday, 183 000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated but inoculations at some sites had to be suspended because of a delay in the delivery of the third batch of the J&J vaccine.
70 000 doses arrived on Saturday. Suliman says the global vaccine shortage poses a huge challenge.
“We do have a number of doses that are on order approximately 40 million are on the pipeline when they will arrive they are to be administered. I think that’s the question. There is a global vaccine shortage. Until we start a wider vaccine rollout that continues to be the problem. If we can acquire enough doses, I’m sure the speed and the number of doses that we will administer will pick up. I think reaching the threshold of herd immunity by the end of the year is probably a bit too optimistic.”
Arrival of vaccines
Meanwhile, the Department of Health says another batch of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in South Africa.
The doses will be used to immunise more healthcare workers in different provinces.
South Africa has so far vaccinated more than 170 000 healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors.