Third wave ‘stubbornly persists’, young adults urged to get vaccinated

After new Covid-19 cases slowed down, infections in South Africa are again rising, with an 18.2% uptick in the past seven days. 

The latest report on the pandemic shows 13 672 new coronavirus cases with 317 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours. As of Thursday, 78 694 people had succumbed to the virus since its first detection in March 2020, and just over 2.6-million people have contracted Covid-19. 

“The third wave remains stubbornly in our midst, with a resurgence moving decisively from Gauteng to coastal provinces,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla said during the weekly Covid-19 update on Friday 20.

He noted that infections were “picking up” again, particularly in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape. He pointed out that the Northern Cape had never turned the curve, going straight from its second wave into the third. 

“There has been [an] 18.2% increase in new infections over the last seven days compared to the previous seven days,” said Phaahla. 

On Thursday, the government announced that the cabinet had decided to keep the country at lockdown alert level 3 to try to bring infections down.

Despite the rise in new cases, hospital admissions over the past seven days decreased by 5.4%, which the health minister said was “very encouraging”.

Phaahla said just under 192 000 Covid-19 vaccinations had been administered countrywide on Thursday. Of these, 137 215 people were now fully vaccinated. 

The total number of people who have received either the single shot Johnson & Johnson drug or the double dose Pfizer, is 4 629 371. Slightly more than 10-million people have received the J&J vaccine or one Pfizer jab.

The government announced on Thursday it had expanded its national Covid-19 vaccination programme from Friday to include people aged 18 to 35, earlier than the September target it had previously set.

Phaahla repeated his call for more people to get vaccinated.

“We still have a long way to go to reach 70% of the adult population, but at least we are somewhere on the journey, with 20% of all the adults between 18 years and above [35],” said Phaahla. 

“The benefit of opening up early among the 18 years and plus is that now we can say all adults for whom the vaccine has been certified … to be safe — all these adults can now be vaccinated,” Phaahla said. 

“We can now cut out administrative and bureaucratic red tape because as long as you have an ID, which means you are over 18, you can be registered and receive your vaccine.”

People are encouraged to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System before going to vaccination sites to make the process quicker.

Business for South Africa (B4SA) announced on Monday that people can use walk-in services at private health facilities. 

The full public and private sector list of vaccination sites can be found here.

The list for the private sector vaccination sites can be found here.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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