While Gauteng remains the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has warned that many provinces in the country are almost at red alert as infections continue to increase.
“The trends are clearly showing that other provinces which are currently lagging are going to experience the trend we are seeing in Gauteng, most notably in the Western and the Eastern Cape. What worries us as well, is the positivity rate. If you look at Limpopo, it has almost 42% of positivity rate, which is leading in terms of positivity rates,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
Briefing the media on government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines on Friday, Kubayi-Ngubane said the COVID-19 situation in the country remains of great concern, as the numbers continue to increase at a very rapid rate.
“In the last 24 hours, there are 21 584 new cases, which is higher than the average number of new cases per day over the seven preceding days measured at 16 916 cases. The positivity testing rate has also increased from 27.6% the previous day to 28.4%.”
Gauteng continues to be the epicentre of new infections with the number of new cases having risen to 12 806 which represents 60% of the total new infections.
“We remain very worried about the rise in hospitalisations, which is putting a lot of strain on the health facilities in Gauteng. The private health hospitals are currently operating at more than 100% capacity and public health hospitals are edging closer to full capacity,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
She said nationally the third wave numbers have surpassed the first wave peak and are likely to surpass the second wave peak.
The new variant, called the Delta variant, is quickly becoming the dominant variant in the country, replacing both the Alpha variant experienced in the first wave and Beta variant experienced in the second wave.
However, the Minister reminded the public that the Beta variant is still prevalent and spreading.
“An important characteristic of the Delta variant is … those who were previously infected by Beta were immune from reinfection by both the Alpha and Beta variant – it is not the case with the Delta variant.
“This means that those who have had COVID-19 are at a risk of reinfection by the Delta variant,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
Over 120 000 people vaccinated in last 24 hours
Over 120 000 people were vaccinated in the last 24 hours, with KwaZulu-Natal leading the pack, followed by Gauteng, then the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
“The vaccination of educators is progressing well and we have so far vaccinated just over 300 000 educators. We had more educators registering in KwaZulu-Natal and followed by Gauteng,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
A total of 354 504 people aged between 50 and 59 registered for their vaccination when the system opened on Thursday. The group will start receiving their jabs on 15 July 2021.
“In parallel to this process, we are also finalising the details for the commencement of vaccinations of other frontline sectors such as the police, defence, the security cluster and we will provide more details soon,” she said.
Two million Pfizer doses expected in July
The Minister said almost 2.1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in July.
She said Pfizer has delivered nearly 4.5 million doses in quarter two and they have committed just over 15.5 million doses in quarter three, of which “we are expecting nearly 2.1 million doses in July”.
“Johnson and Johnson have so far delivered 500 000 early access doses used for Sisonke, 300 000 market doses two weeks ago and 1.2 million doses landed last week. These doses all need to be used by 11 August.
“We are awaiting confirmation for delivery of 500 000 doses (these expire later than the previous doses mentioned), and this makes up the two million to replace those that were lost to the contamination incident.
“We make a clarion call to all those who qualify, to register and vaccinate,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The Minister used the opportunity to thank scientists who continue to make world class scientific findings that are helping to fight the pandemic.
She also thanked the healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and all supporting stuff in health care centres for continuing to be in the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.