By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), reports 13 751 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 422 151. This increase represents a 24.6% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from Western Cape (29%), followed by Gauteng (27%). KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 14%; Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga each accounted for 7%; Limpopo and North West each accounted for 5%; Free State accounted for 4%; and Northern Cape accounted for 3% of today’s new cases.
NICD said a further 523 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 71 431 to date.
Meanwhile government is gearing up to administer over 300 000 COVID-19 vaccination inoculations a day, with an unprecedented amount of doses set to arrive in the country in the next coming days and weeks.
The delivery of the vaccines will soon see the country have enough stock for about 50 days.
As of Thursday, the country had administered over 7 million doses. Of these, 903 000 were Johnson & Johnson doses exclusively for essential public services sectors like social development, the police and military personnel. Since 17 May, 4.3 million Pfizer first doses and 1.3 million second doses have been administered.
Department of Health Deputy Director-General for the National Health Insurance, Dr Nicholas Crisp, emphasised this during a digital media webinar on how government can leverage social media in the fight against COVID-19.
The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Institute hosted Thursday’s webinar.
He said: "This week is the least vaccines we've ever had in the system".
"We are geared to do well over 300 000 vaccinations a day. We have this little window of this week where we have not yet received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
This was set to begin changing from Saturday when the country begins to receive large Pfizer consignments.
"We have received some vaccines last Sunday - another 960 000 doses - but the main vaccines will really start to arrive on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and the week after that," he said.
A Johnson & Johnson vaccine batch could also arrive this Friday, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Once these vaccines arrive, the country could have at least 50 days of vaccines available. This would exponentially bolster South Africa’s vaccination programme and see it go "flat out".
"It's those within the groups that are over the age of 60 and 50, that we must continue to reach and our messaging must really continue to ask the young people to bring their parents and their grandparents for vaccinations," he said.
He said while some people could walk into vaccination sites and receive jabs, it was still preferred that individuals registered on the designated Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) self-registration portal.
"There's a race against time, as I said, but the biggest race is to get as many of the older population as possible vaccinated as we possibly can," said Crisp.