By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize says the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases for South Africa is 1 545 979.
This is an increase of 548 new cases identified and the cumulative total of tests conducted is 9 819 994 with 16 123 tests completed since the last report.
Mkhize said a further 47 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 3, Free State 2, Gauteng 15, Kwa-Zulu Natal 0, Limpopo 0, Mpumalanga 0, North West 23, Northern Cape 1 and Western Cape 3 which brings the total to 52 710 deaths.
The minister added that the cumulative recoveries today stand at 1 472 645, representing a recovery rate of 95%.
The number of health care workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol is 239 665 as at 18.30, 29 March 2020.
Meanwhile President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that South Africa has secured 30 million Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines.
Also, 220 million jabs which will leave the Aspen Pharmacare’s production line will be spread throughout the African continent.
The President made the announcement when he and his Deputy, David Mabuza, visited the Aspen Pharmacare sterile manufacturing facility where millions of vaccines shots are produced at Gqeberha, Eastern Cape on Monday.
"As you well know, we’ve got a multi-supplier system of acquiring vaccines, Johnson & Johnson is one of those that we’re buying vaccines from and there are a number of others."
He said government is continuing to negotiate with several drugmakers as they work tirelessly to acquire the much-needed lifesaving vaccines.
"The Minister of Health and his officials together with Finance continue to be seized with that whole process, "he said.
He stressed that the country will not be overpaying for the vaccines to acquire J&J and other suppliers.
There is a great competition around the world about acquiring vaccines and we’re focused more to say, we’ve got to acquire vaccines as quickly as possible so that we can save our people’s lives."
He shot down criticism around the slow pace of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The sluggish vaccine distribution has been caused by a global shortage of vaccines.
This was not unique to South Africa, the President said, citing Japan and some other European and African countries, which started their programme later than expected.
"You will remember that we acquired vaccines initially from India and through scientific processes they were not efficient for the variant that we have and we have to source that vaccines."
In February, Ramaphosa said South Africa became the first country in the world to give J&J to healthcare workers.
The President said he hoped the visit would speed up production, while he said government is still waiting for the Pfizer jabs.