Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, says R9 billion has been allocated to the Department of Health to urgently focus on fighting COVID-19 through its comprehensive local intervention programmes. Mkhize was delivering his budget vote speech during a hybrid National Assembly sitting.

He tabled the department’s R62.5 billion budget for the 2021/22 financial year on Thursday.

The Budget Vote Debate comes four days before the start of the second phase vaccination rollout campaign.

Mkhize explained how the mass vaccination programme will unfold next week.

“Our country is set to begin Phase 2 of the vaccination programme on 17th May (2021), targeting 130 sites for the public sector to be active by the end of the week, focusing on the population aged 60 and above as well as vulnerable groups, using Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccine, as vaccination of the remainder of health care workers is being concluded.

The private sector sites will open later on during the same week. Over the medium term, the department’s most urgent focus is combating the coronavirus through our comprehensive local intervention programmes, for which R9 billion has been allocated,” he says.

The mass vaccination campaign comes at a time when some provinces have already seen a surge in new COVID-19 infections.

Epidemiologists are particularly concerned about the Northern Cape where the active COVID-19 cases remain stubborn.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry said the Northern Cape has shown a 68% increase in new COVID-19 infections in the last seven-day reporting period while Gauteng has seen a 63% increase in new infections.

Latest COVID-19 statistics in SA: 

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The health department has advised people to continue wearing their masks, practice social distancing and regular hand washing. People are also advised to avoid areas with poor ventilation and large crowds.

Dr Zweli Mkhize says R9 billion allocated to Health Department to tackle COVID-19:

R3 billion investment to develop vaccines

Mkhize has also encouraged South Africans to continue rallying behind government’s efforts to push for a waiver on some intellectual property rights for vaccines and medicines at the World Trade Organisation.

His remark came amid a R3 billion investment towards vaccine development in South Africa by  South African-born American medical entrepreneur, Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.

President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterates the need for vaccine development to be made global: