Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says government will be ramping up information programmes to inform the public on the vaccines being procured for COVID-19 as well as the inoculation stages.

He was visiting hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal to assess the situation as the province has been identified as a hotspot.

Mkhize says the numbers are concerning.  “It’s clearer on this resurgence that KZN is having the heaviest load. Fatality rates are also showing an increase.”

The Health Department has said it has applied to the COVAX facility for the possible procurement of its last batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

It says delivery of the first batch of one million doses of the Astra Zeneca/ Oxford vaccine is on track and a firm date of delivery is expected to be confirmed this week.

Mkhize says it is still important for South Africans to continue adhering to the health and safety protocols even as the vaccines are rolled out.

“We must all wear masks, ensure distancing, hand washing, and sanitising. If you have gadgets, such as the media does, keep sanitising those too, as we are constantly touching them.”

Minister Zweli Mkhize visits hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal: 

Power outages 

Mkhize says it is unacceptable that patients die as a result of electricity or power outages, especially in healthcare facilities. The province is among the highest infection rates during the second wave of COVID-19 with hospitals under tremendous strain.

Mkhize responded to an incident where a patient allegedly died due to a power outage in one of the hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

“It should not happen that the power outage should result in the death of a patient, normally generators are to respond so quickly to the power depending areas such as theatre. I will be very keen to see where exactly those reports are coming from, we need to get the specifics so that we can go to that. It has to be proven that it was linked to the generator and it has been proven that there was death as a result of an electricity outage.”