NATIONAL NEWS - Today, we wish to reiterate our plea to South Africans to heed the threat of the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases identified. There is clear evidence of an exponential rise in transmission and this is cause for serious concern, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily Covid-19 report.
As of Thursday, a cumulative total of 836 764 cases have been reported with 8 166 new cases.
“A cumulative 5 735 470 tests have been completed, of which 45 207 have been conducted since the last report.
“Regrettably, we report 173 more Covid-19 related deaths: Eastern Cape 90, Free State 13, Gauteng 8, KwaZulu-Natal 10 and Western Cape 52, which brings the total to 22 747 deaths.
“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health workers that treated the deceased patients,” Mkhize said.
Meanwhile, Africa’s top public health official has said “it will be extremely terrible to see” rich countries receiving Covid-19 vaccines while African countries go without it, especially as a new surge in cases begins on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
As the world watches mass vaccinations begin in Britain, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong warned on Thursday that Africa might not see vaccines until after the second quarter of 2021.
Nkengasong called it a “moral issue” and urged the United Nations to summon a special session to discuss the ethical and fair distribution of vaccines to avoid “this North-South distrust in respect to vaccines, which is a common good”.
His remarks come a day after a report released by the People’s Vaccine Alliance warned that as many as 90 percent of the population in dozens of poorer countries will miss out on the coronavirus vaccine next year.
In its report, the alliance said rich countries have hoarded enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over, leaving some 67 poor countries with only enough to vaccinate one of 10 people.
Covid-19 will not be defeated in the West alone, he said, and he took aim at “today’s dialogue of suspicion” as rich countries buy vaccines “in excess of their needs while we in Africa are still struggling with the COVAX facility”, the multinational initiative designed to deliver at least some vaccines to less developed countries.
Africa will not receive nearly enough vaccines from COVAX to reach the goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity, Nkengasong said, and he appealed to countries with excess doses to give them to COVAX or countries in need.
“We need to show global cooperation, global solidarity,” he said. “The time to translate those powerful words into action is now.”