South Africa’s Health Department set to introduce vaccine certificate

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the Department of Health will soon roll out the vaccine certificate as proof that residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a televised address to the nation, the President said the digital pass system could be used to show vaccination status to facilitate travel, access to establishments, gatherings and other forms of activity.

“Our approach is informed by World Health Organisation guidelines and is in line with international best practice. Streamlining and standardising proof of vaccination will also go a long way towards getting a number of international travel restrictions both from and into our country eased,” he explained.

The First Citizen was delivering an address on developments in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the address, the President announced that the country would from Friday move from Adjusted Alert Level 2 to Adjusted Alert Level 1 after the country exited the COVID-19 third wave over the weekend.

The pronouncement comes after the meetings with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) and Cabinet.

“Getting vaccinated is not only about protecting yourself and those around you; it is also about preventing new and more dangerous variants from emerging, as the virus can spread and mutate in unvaccinated populations,” President Ramaphosa said.

However, he has urged South Africans to continue to adhere to the basic precautions to limit the spread of the virus, even if they are inoculated.

Tourism

Shifting the focus to tourism, the President said several countries around the world have opted to restrict travel from other countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), which has imposed a travel ban on South Africans under its red list.

This means that travellers returning to the UK from South Africa must spend 10 days in quarantine at their own expense, even though they are vaccinated.

“This has put us in a disadvantaged position, since the United Kingdom is South Africa’s biggest source of tourism from the northern hemisphere and a significant trading partner,” said the President.

While UK scientists were concerned about the presence of the Beta variant in South Africa, President Ramaphosa said the Delta variant is now by far the dominant variant locally.

The Head of State confirmed that he had a call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the matter.

“I put South Africa’s case to him, which he understood very well,” he told the nation.

“We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science and are hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days.”

Economy

In addition, President Ramaphosa said the country’s priority is economic recovery to make room for job creation and help businesses hard hit by the pandemic get back on their feet.

“The only way that we can do this is if more South Africans choose to get vaccinated, more quickly.

“If the majority of our population is vaccinated, we can declare South Africa to be a safe destination and welcome tourists back over the summer season.”

The President believes that this is the only way for the country to resume sporting events and concerts, lift restrictions on restaurants and bars, and facilitate the safe return to workplaces, shops and public spaces.

“If we can reach our vaccination targets by the end of this year, we can avoid further restrictions and kick our economic recovery into high gear,” he stressed. – SAnews

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