By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 13,921 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,582,427. This increase represents a 23% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from Western Cape (28%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (24%). Gauteng Province accounted for 15%; Eastern Cape accounted for 8%; Free State and Mpumalanga each accounted for 6% respectively; North West accounted for 5%; Northern Cape accounted for 4%; and Limpopo Province accounted for 3% of today’s new cases.
NICD said a further 384 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 76,631 to date.
For updates on the national vaccine programme, click here.
Meanwhile South Africa’s biggest challenge to meeting a target of vaccinating two-thirds of the adult population against Covid-19 has shifted from a shortage of supply to a lack of demand.
"We are sitting in a situation where we don’t have a vaccine constraint, at least for the next two months, "Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general in the department of health, said in an online briefing on Friday. "Now we need vaccine demand."
Africa’s most industrialized nation opened its rollout of Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson doses to those between 35 and 49 years old last month, yet interest from that age group has not been sustained, Crisp said.
An improvement has been seen in the over-60s, he said, and the number of people fully vaccinated is set to pass four million, out of an adult population of about 40 million.
Vaccine hesitancy or outright opposition has been a barrier to ending the coronavirus pandemic all over the world, though may be a particular problem in South Africa.
A survey found last month that about 54% of nationals say they are unlikely to get a Covid-19 vaccine and almost half say they believe prayer provides more protection than the shots.
One issue of concern in South Africa is a particular reluctance to be vaccinated among men, Crisp said. Almost 60% of those to have received a dose to date have been women.
"This is not good," Crisp said. "It means that men are going to end up very sick and in hospital and we don’t want that to happen just prior to Christmas."