KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has announced that the Oxford University Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which arrived in South Africa on Monday, is expected to arrive in the province around 14 February 2021.
Outlining KwaZulu-Natal’s Vaccine Roll-Out Plan during a virtual media briefing on Tuesday, Zikalala said that the province has developed its own vaccination rollout plan, based on guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and National Department of Health.
“Our Plan focuses on the management, distribution and dispensing of the vaccine. Key to the success of this plan is co-operation between the public and private sector, as well as non-governmental, community, and faith-based organisations (FBOs),” Zikalala said.
The province has also established a Vaccine Co-ordinating Committee, which includes, amongst others, private hospitals, traditional leaders, eThekwini Municipality, Health Systems Trust, Organised Labour, PEPFAR partners, the academic sector, National Health Laboratory Service, civil society, and the South African Military Health Services.
According to Zikalala, all provincial districts across the province have finalised vaccination distribution plans.
He noted that the Provincial Command Council will support, monitor and perform oversight over the vaccine roll-out process.
“All District Command Councils, led by MEC’s and mayors will spend time in districts for the duration of the roll-out and ensure daily accountability and hands on support. The Provincial Vaccine Coordinating Committee, Chaired by the Head of Department for Health, which includes unions, NGO’s, traditional healers, academic sector, civil society, and Military Health Care services, has also been established to fast-track implementation,” Zikalala explained.
The province will follow the phased approach to vaccination, including Phase 1, which is divided into two categories.
The two categories include health care workers and support staff, and administrative and other staff.
The provincial first beneficiaries targeted include 67 644 public sector health care staff; 9 292 medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists, Emergency Medical Services (EMS); 390 interns; 34 279 nurses; and 20 417 non-occupation specific dispensation (OSD) employees.
The beneficiaries also include 2 639 allied health professionals; 366 engineers/artisans; 256 staff providing social services; 14 625 privately contracted staff working in public sector; 5 939 traditional healers; 350 military health care staff; 6 699 NGO sector staff; as well as 360 environmental health practitioners.
“A total of 163 256 health personnel from various sectors in KwaZulu-Natal are eligible to receive vaccination during the first phase, as announced by the President. These include 81 000 Health Care Workers (HCWs) in the public sector and 49 000 in the private sector,” the Premier said.
Vaccination sites identified
To date, Zikalala said, the province has identified 91 vaccination sites, which will include all the public hospitals and Community Health Centres (CHCs).
“These hospitals and CHCs will be responsible for the clinics, and other sites that are part of the value chain in their catchment areas. Every vaccinated person will be observed for a while before being discharged after being vaccinated,” the Premier explained.
A communication and social mobilisation strategy has also been developed to ensure that all citizens in the province are well informed about the vaccine and the rollout plan.
Decline in new COVID-19 cases
Meanwhile, Zikalala said that the province, which is currently the second-highest countrywide in terms of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, has observed a decline in the number of new cases weekly.
“The overall percentage change in the number of new cases between 17 – 23 January 2021 and 24-30 January 2021, amounted to a decline of 51%. The actual number of cases was 22 608 in week 3, and 11 099 in week 4, respectively.
“Over the past week, the highest number of cases received was 2 079, [and] the average number of cases recorded daily was 1 777 cases per day,” Zikalala said.
However, Zikalala noted that the second wave has been more severe than the first wave in terms of the deaths in the province, with an average of 75 deaths daily over the past two weeks. The analysis was done using the date the person died, not the date of reporting.
On hospitalisation, the province currently has 3 601 patients admitted; this includes 2 429 patients admitted in private hospitals and 1 172 in public hospitals, as at 31 January 2021.
“Of those admitted, 483 patients required intensive care services. Among those who required intensive care, 211 were being ventilated,” the Premier said.