By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 8,411 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,814,014. This increase represents a 15.5% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from KwaZulu-Natal (30%), followed by Western Cape (21%). Eastern Cape accounted for 15%; Free State accounted for 9%, Gauteng Province and Northern Cape each accounted for 6% respectively; Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 5% respectively; and Limpopo Province accounted for 2% of today’s new cases.
NICD said a further 182 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 83,343 to date with 16,708,682 tests have been conducted in both public and private sectors.
Meanwhile Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, says government has enough capacity to administer vaccinations at various sites across the country.
"We are ready [and] all we need is your arms to come through so that we can inject you. We have the capacity to do 300 000 and 400 000 [vaccinations] per day throughout the country," Phaahla said.
The Minister briefed the media on progress regarding government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and the national vaccination rollout programme, on Friday.
Currently, the number of people who are being vaccinated per day is between 250 and 290 000, with just under 1.4 million vaccine doses having been administered up to Thursday evening.
Phaahla highlighted that the number of people who have been vaccinated is approaching the10 million mark, with 9.7 million people who have been vaccinated as of Thursday evening. These include over six million people who are fully vaccinated with both the Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.
"Where we are currently, we can say that just under one quarter of the adult population have had at least the jab, which translate to 24% of the population [out of the] entire population of 59 million, just over 16 and half percent, this excludes 0 and 16-year-olds," Phaahla said.
Despite all the challenges experienced at the beginning of vaccination drive earlier this year, Phaahla said he is very proud in terms of people who have vaccinated, with Gauteng leading with just under 700 000 people who are already vaccinated. It is followed by KwaZulu-Natal, as well as Eastern and Western Cape.
The Minister visited the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital vaccination site to assess the Gauteng province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme.
He said the Department of Health, together with the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on COVID-19 vaccines have taken a decision to give practical support to the provinces with their vaccination programme rollout. The visits started in Gauteng on Thursday and Friday. North West and Mpumalanga provinces are next on the list.
While acknowledging that the third wave of COVID-19 has proven to be quite stubborn, the Minister commended Gauteng for the progress made in response to the epidemic, considering that the province accounts for a quarter of the population of the country.
"We are encouraged that Gauteng is now stabilising with the new infection rate below 1000. The province has enough capacity with 10 main vaccination sites in Soweto and outreach sites. Even if the whole of Soweto can turn up, we will be able to provide enough vaccinations."
In a bid to make the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) more user friendly, the Department of Health has added a new functionality on the registration system, which allows people to choose the site where they want to be vaccinated, including the day and time.
The system also allows people to amend their booking, if they want to change the date and site for vaccination.