With over 42 000 people having succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, South Africans are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of a vaccine.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country has secured 20 million doses.

“We have to date secured 20 million doses to be delivered mainly in the first half of the year. We will make further announcements as we conclude our negotiations with vaccine manufacturers,” he said.

The first batch of doses is expected to arrive in the country on Monday, which is a glimmer of hope for a country still on an Adjusted Alert Level Three after reaching a grim milestone in coronavirus infections.  At some point, South Africa recorded over 21 800 infections in one day. And things are beginning to improve with the identified hotspots now being reviewed and the much sought after vaccine also expected in the country soon.

Government has said 1.2 million frontline healthcare workers are first in the vaccine queue.

“When more vaccines arrive, we will prioritise essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers, and other frontline personnel. We will also prioritise people in institutions like old age homes, shelters and prisons, people over 60 years of age, and adults with co-morbidities. With increased manufacturer supplies, we will then vaccinate the remaining adult population of approximately 22.5 million people. We will then have reached around 40 million South Africans which is considered to approximate herd immunity,” President Ramaphosa has said.

EXPLAINER | South Africa’s vaccine rollout strategy:

Schools gear up for start of new year

Schools are also ready for re-opening, with some private ones to resume classes on Monday.

Basic Education Department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, says public schools are also more than ready to begin the new school calendar year.

“We are ready and we were always ready to open the schools on the 26th of January  for teachers and learners on the 27th until we were requested by the Department of Health and Cabinet to postpone the reopening but the state of readiness is something that we checked at the end of last year and we spoke with provinces they confirmed that they were ready so the additional time that has been created due to the postponement has given us an opportunity to strengthen our safety protocols that we need to implement in schools to make sure that our teachers and learners are safe when they go back.”

In the video below, DBE announces that public schools will reopen in February:

Economy in tatters

The lockdown has not only wreaked substantial damage on human lives – it has also badly affected the economy.

Low-income earners in informal employment have been hit the hardest. Some of them are calling for the further relaxation of lockdown restrictions in the country.

“I really hope that he loosens some regulation……. the numbers are showing we are declining a little bit.”

It is still not clear when the President will address the nation on the country’s response to the pandemic, but he is expected to thank the Indian government after the arrival of the vaccine consignment on Monday.