COVID-19 cases continue to fall in South Africa, with 856 new infections reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative number to 1 513 959.
Meanwhile, deaths due to Coronavirus have peaked by a further 194, pushing the tally to 50 271 since the outbreak.
Of the recent deaths, 80 occurred in KwaZulu-Natal, 43 in Gauteng, 29 in Free State, 15 in Limpopo, 12 in the Western Cape, eight in the Eastern Cape and seven in the Northern Cape.
“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the healthcare workers who treated the deceased patients,” said Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Meanwhile, active cases are showing signs of declining, with 31 224 people who are battling the virus.
While the number has been dropping, KwaZulu-Natal continues to be an epicentre in terms of the active case with 9 456 patients who are currently infected, followed by the Free State with 6 251, and the Western Cape with 5 930.
In addition, 2 928 active cases are in Gauteng, 2 417 in the North West, 2 047 in the Northern Cape, 1 031 in Mpumalanga, 875 in Limpopo and 289 in the Eastern Cape.
“Our recoveries now stand at 1 433 320, representing a recovery rate of 94.6%.”
The information is based on 9 114 026 tests of which 23 753 were performed since the last reporting cycle.
According to the Health Department, the number of healthcare workers vaccinated is 76 037 as of Tuesday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there have been 114 140 104 confirmed global cases of COVID-19 to date, including 2 535 520 deaths.
According to the WHO, over 2.6 million new cases were reported last week, a 7% increase compared to the previous week. This follows six consecutive weeks of declining figures.
The organisation said the spike in the Eastern Mediterranean (14%), South-East Asia (9%), Europe (9%) and the Americas (6%) has driven the peak.
“Possible reasons for this increase include the continued spread of more transmissible variants of concern, relaxation of public health and social measures and fatigue around adhering to these measures,” the WHO explained.
The agency said basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response, which include testing, contact tracing, isolation, supported quarantine and quality care.
“For individuals, it means avoiding crowds, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masks and ventilation.”
The WHO said the immunity conferred by vaccination takes weeks at the individual level and may take longer to affect the population-level.
In addition, global new deaths continue to decrease, with over 63 000 new fatalities reported last week, a 6% decrease as compared to the previous week.
The new fatalities decreased in four regions, Europe, Africa, the Western Pacific and the Americas. It has increased by 47% in the South East Asia region, due to retrospective reporting of deaths from Nepal.
“The Americas reported over 1.1 million new cases and nearly 34 000 deaths, which accounted for 42% of global cases and 53% of global deaths.”
In the past week, the five countries that reported the highest number of new cases were the United States (472 904 new cases, a 2% decrease), Brazil (373 954 new cases, an 18% increase), France (149 959 new cases, a 14% increase), Italy (112 029 new cases, a 32% increase) and India (105 080 new cases, a 21% increase).
According to the WHO, the 501Y.V2 variant, first discovered in South Africa has now reached five additional countries – now totalling 56 countries across all six WHO regions.
According to the WHO, Ghana is the first country outside of India to receive COVID-19 vaccines shipped via the COVAX facility.
Last week, 600 000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arrived in Accra from the Serum Institute of India in Pune.
“This is the start of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, an unprecedented effort to deliver at least two billion doses of vaccine in 2021, including at least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses to 92 Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) countries through COVAX AMC,” said the WHO.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), lead COVAX.
The initiative has been assisting governments to develop national vaccination plans, providing support for cold chain infrastructure, and stockpiling syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks and gloves to ensure the start of vaccination of priority groups.
“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
He believes the move is a major first step towards realising the shared vision of vaccine equity.
“But we still have a lot of work to do with governments and manufacturers to ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people has begun in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021,” he said.