Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has since thanked all South Africans for cooperating with government in the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, he has warned that there is still a very long road ahead as the number of new infections continues to spike.
“The reality is that this battle is not yet over. The third wave remains stubbornly in our midst.”
He said the number of new cases in the Western Cape has been increasing, with the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Northern Cape lagging behind.
“The worrying trend is that overall in the last seven days, there has been an 18.2% increase in new infections over that seven-day period compared to the previous seven days.
“So, while the curve has started to show a downward trend, it is now picking up again, driven largely by the Western Cape, KZN, and the Eastern Cape. But also the Northern Cape as I’ve said which has never really gone down from the second wave and just went straight into the third wave.”
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 13 672 new COVID-19 cases were detected on Thursday, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed infections to 2 652 652.
However, he announced that hospital admissions have gone down by 5.4% over the last seven days.
“It is very encouraging because it means less pressure on our hospital facilities and our medical staff. It is for this reason that further South Africans the National Coronavirus Council and Cabinet this week have decided to keep the country at alert level three, but we remain hopeful that if we all observe the known protocols, we can start to see a decisive flattening of the curve in the next two weeks.”
Phaahla said this was not only in the hands of government but citizens too.
Vaccine rollout programme
He also welcomed some significant milestones in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
By Thursday, the country administered 10 167 000 vaccine doses, including the second dose of a Pfizer vaccine.
Meanwhile, he said over three million people over the age of 60 years were either fully vaccinated, or had received one dose of the Pfizer jab, out of an estimated total population of 5.5 million.
“Now this gives us coverage of the over 60s of 55%. But our wish is to reach 70% of the over 60s. Therefore, we still have some way to go.”
In addition, they are now 4.62 million fully vaccinated people, who either received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) or two-dose Pfizer jab.
“These are people who have fully vaccinated, which is 12% of the adult population, but remembering that when we talk about other population, we mean 18 years and above,” he said, adding that those aged between 18 and 34 are still yet to come into a vaccination category.
Cabinet approved for the vaccination of people aged between 18 and 34 years from today.
Phaahla said there is still a long way to go to reach 70% of the adult population, as those who received at least one jab of lifesaving vaccine is around 20%.
“Again, I want to emphasise this, that we’ve reached the 20% without admitting those aged between 18 and 34-year-olds. But at least we’re somewhere on the journey.” – SAnews