Friday, 08 October 2021

Pretoria: With South Africa having exited the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reproductive rate of the virus is standing at 0.67% indicating that the country is entering stable territory, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, said on Friday.

“This third wave has lasted longer than the previous two waves, which was for more than 100 days. The first wave was for about 80 days and the second wave lasted for 90 days,” Phaahla said, addressing a media briefing on government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and the national vaccination rollout programme.

The Minister said the number of new infections has been consistently dropping in the last three weeks, with a 33% reduction in the last seven days.

“There has been a 90.3% decrease in hospitalisation in the last seven days and we have seen a decrease in the reported deaths by 51% in the last seven days. The overall positivity rate has remained below five percent in the last seven to 14 days on an average of three percent over the last seven days.

“The average positivity rate has reduced in all provinces, we are concerned about the Northern Cape and Free State where the positivity rate has been above five percent on some days,” the Minister said.

In the last 24 hours, South Africa reported 989 new cases.

There are still over 5 000 people in hospital with COVID-19 infections of whom 885 are in the intensive care units and 465 are on ventilators.

“We can only sustain the low levels of infections if we continue to observe the personal health and safety measures,” he warned.

With the fourth wave expected later this year, the Minister urged everyone in the country to get vaccinated.

“We have a window of opportunity while infections are low to protect ourselves before the expected fourth wave. Vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, very few vaccinated people are falling ill,” the Minister said.

Government recently introduced a series of weekend vaccination drives, known as Vuma Vaccination Weekends, to make it easier for people to get jabbed outside working hours.

“During the [first] Vuma Vaccination Weekend, we surpassed our minimum target of 350 000 vaccination doses administered and the momentum of the weekend has carried us in the week with sustained increases over 200 000 does were administered per day. Last weekend, over 2 100 sites were opened on Friday, 1400 on Saturday and 500 sites opened on Friday,” the Minister said.

More Vuma Vaccination Weekends will be announced in the future.

“The total doses administered thus far is 18 735 000, with 13 300 000 individuals fully vaccinated at 33.4% of the adult population This takes us very close to half of the targeted 70%.

“It is encouraging that we are close to reaching 70% of the vulnerable groups, which is the 60 plus age group, and the 50-59 age group with vaccination coverage.

“For the age group of 60 and above, we are now standing at 60.7% and the 50-59 age group stands at 52%.” the Minister said.