Government says its decision to sell 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other African states was correct because its efficacy against the BETA variant that was prevalent in the country at the time was too low.
Government has also announced it will support workers who will be laid off during this 14-day level 4 lockdown period. The government says that it has already distributed R60 billion to retrenched workers.
Various government ministers, who are on the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), briefed the media in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Acting Health Minister, Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, says they’ll continue to monitor other variants.
“Now with the Delta presence does not mean where we are that Delta has completely replaced Beta in our presence if you look at all the provinces. You will do still find both in the country, you still find Beta and Delta. That’s where we are and we are monitoring others as well in terms of the presence of those other variants,” she said.
The variant has been detected in several provinces in the country and has been cited as the driver of the current surge in infections, especially in Gauteng.
Full briefing of the National Coronavirus Command Council in the video below:
Kubayi-Ngubane, says that the government is ramping up its vaccine rollout with a target of vaccinating 300 000 people a day. Currently, they are only able to do just over 100 000 inoculations a day.
She concedes they will not meet their end of June target to vaccinate 5-million elderly people – due to a number of reasons including vaccine hesitancy and the use of technology in registering people on the EVDS system.
Kubayi-Ngubane announced that military personnel will start getting their shots next week and that an announcement on Correctional Services personnel is also expected soon.
“There’s still an issue about the payments of overtime over the weekend for those who will be vaccinating. So that is why, for now, the vaccination happens between Monday and Friday and most of the provinces with Limpopo doing weekends for teachers and also for these professionals and Gauteng having CHBH/Bara as a site for Saturday and Sunday,” she said.
Vaccination of police staff
The vaccination of the more than 180 000 police officers and support staff will also kick off from Monday.
Police Minister, Bheki Cele, says the pandemic has claimed the lives of 666 officers. He says that during the next two weeks, law enforcement will be out in full force to enforce level 4 lockdown regulations.
Cele has warned those who violate the regulations that there’ll be consequences for not wearing a mask in public, for selling alcohol that is banned during this period, or for holding mass gatherings, including marches. He says that since the start of the lockdown last year, 465 000 people have been arrested.
“There was a question about soldiers in Gauteng, for now, they go there as a medical corp, For them to be part of patrolling with the police and enforcing the law, those processes have not started,” he adds.
Level four lockdown regulations
For the next 14-days, no one is allowed to travel in and out of Gauteng for leisure purposes. Those who need to travel to the province for work and business must produce a permit.
Hotels will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity but their restaurants, like all other restaurants, will only be permitted to sell take-aways.
Those flying in and out of the country must produce test results not older than 72 hours to prove they don’t have the coronavirus.
Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, says that there’s no need to ban flights from India to South Africa.
“We can’t shut down aviation again – no direct airlines from India – come via other countries – between SA and India no airlines – So there’s nothing to ban. We do not have airlines to India.”
Government to support workers laid-off in alcohol industry
Employment and Labour Minister, Thulas Nxesi, says that the government will support workers who are laid off in the sectors that have been forced to close by the level 4 lockdown, including the alcohol industry.
He says the UIF COVID Benefit Scheme has so far distributed R60-billion to retrenched workers.
Nxesi says that an additional 500 health and safety inspectors have been employed and trained to carry out workplace inspections for compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols. He says they’ve set a target of 100 000 inspections for the year.
“We believe that we will be able to afford to support laid-off workers in sectors which have been closed by government and I want to emphasize, sectors closed by government, in particular, the alcohol industry over the 14-day lockdown. And remember when we talking about the alcohol industry we are not talking about the whole value chain. We believe that the production is still continuing.”
Alcohol industry and related sectors to be hit hard by level 4 regulations: