Monday, 23 August 2021 20:55

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 7,632 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,698,605. This increase represents a 20.2% positivity rate.

The majority of new cases today are from KwaZulu-Natal (33%), followed by Western Cape (21%),Eastern Cape accounted for 17%; Gauteng Province accounted for 7%; Free State accounted for 6%; Mpumalanga and Northern Cape accounted for 5% each; North West accounted for 4%; and Limpopo Province accounted for 1% of today’s new cases.

NICD said a further 163 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 79 584 to date.

Meanwhile Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, has called on the agricultural and agro-processing sectors to ensure that they go out and vaccinate.

"There is a promising improvement in the country’s vaccination programme, with over 10% of the population having been vaccinated already. I wish to call on all role players in the agricultural and agro-processing sectors to ensure that they are vaccinated because that will go a long way in ensuring continued food production in the country," Didiza said.

Echoing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s sentiments, Didiza said the fight against COVID-19 forms part of the core of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan of government.

 "This sector is important in terms of jobs as the sector has consistently maintained more than 750 000 jobs over the medium term. Based on its potential on economic growth and job creation, it has been identified as one of the key economic sectors to drive the economic recovery in the country, and that is why all of us in the sector need to be fully vaccinated, so that we continue to play our important role.

"Over nine million vaccines have been administered in the country to date, with over seven million people partially vaccinated, and over four million fully vaccinated. It is pleasing that the vaccination of persons aged between 18-years and 34-years has started from Friday, and I hope this 'TikTok' brigade will flock the vaccination sites in numbers," Didiza said.

The Minister also urged the public not to pay attention to unfounded and misleading conspiracy theories about vaccines.

 "Scientific evidence confirms that vaccinated people stand a better chance of surviving COVID-19 than unvaccinated people. I encourage all unvaccinated people, especially in our sector to get vaccinated because vaccines protect us from getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and it saves lives."

She further commended the citrus industry for leading the way in terms of sector vaccination initiative, which has seen public and private health practitioners conducting on-site vaccination on-farm and in pack houses around the country.