Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says there is still no clarity on when a vaccine to combat the coronavirus will land on South African soil.
Several countries have already received shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca jabs.
South Africa has now surpassed the grim milestone of 1 million recorded cases since the start of the pandemic. At least 26 735 people have died due to COVID-19-related illnesses.
Mkhize says the department is waiting on the relevant authorities to deliver the vaccines to South Africa.
“We have constraints in terms of financial resources. We have paid the deposit to the Covax facility, which has an order to deliver for the first ten percent of the population. That ten percent is settled and we are going to wait for Covax – which will be the one to deliver to us those amounts.
Dr. Mkhize says health workers and the vulnerable in society will be among the first to receive a vaccine to combat the coronavirus.
“What we can say to South Africans is that our first target, once we get the vaccines, will be the health workers and the vulnerable groups. When we are ready with all of that information we will make it public. At the moment there is a lot of behind the scenes work and negotiations and we will only announce once we are ready with it.”
Spread of COVID-19 in rural areas
Meanwhile, the Health Minister has voiced concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in rural areas amid the festive season, saying it is difficult for authorities to enforce social distancing in remote regions.
Mkhize says people in both urban and rural areas must adhere to the health protocols, as the country braces for the next few weeks of the second wave.
“It gets very difficult in some of the areas, particularly in the Eastern Cape, because there are very wide rural areas and small towns where people congregate. And everyone comes in during working hours and we tend to have a lot of pressure because people need to take their transport back home in the early afternoon and it really created a lot of challenges of congestion that is very difficult to manage. Nevertheless, the trend now is the infection is stabilising but we are worried that it must not be provoked by the return of people from their holidays.”
The Coronavirus Command Council met yesterday to decide on whether further measures such as a tighter lockdown or stricter rules on public movement should be imposed.