As stadiums open, low vaccination rate in KZN still troubling, says premier Sihle Zikalala
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DURBAN - WHILE KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala yesterday welcomed the national government’s decision to allow sports fans back into stadiums, he said that upping the Covid-19 vaccination rate was the only way for more spectators to be able to watch live sports.
Raising his concern about the low rate of vaccinations, Zikalala said: “It is unthinkable and most unfortunate that after so many lives have been lost to Covid-19 while we did not have a vaccine; when we eventually find it, people then become reluctant to come forward. They do not want to get protected against this deadly virus.”
Zikalala was speaking during a virtual media briefing yesterday on the state of Covid-19 in the province.
He said the province had observed a decline in the number of new Covid-19 cases in the past few weeks.
“The actual number of new cases recorded was 2 035 for week 40; and 1 026 for week 41 respectively.”
Regarding hospital admissions, he said as of October 12, KZN had 764 patients admitted to private and public hospitals.
This number was made up of 514 or 67% of the patients in private hospitals, and 250 or 33% in public hospitals. Of those admitted, 130 or 17% of the patients required intensive care services.
He said one death had been recorded in the latest 24-hour reporting period, bringing the total number to 14 704 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Zikalala said while the infection numbers were low, the fact that Covid-19 was still killing KZN residents was a serious concern, especially as the province was falling short of its vaccination target with only 29% of eligible people vaccinated.
“It is most tragic and unfortunate that all the myths, lies and misconceptions that some people have been spreading about the safety of the Covid–19 vaccine, seem to have found fertile ground in the hearts and minds of many people.
“This despite a large body of scientific evidence that points to the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. As a result of this, only about 2 997 598 or 29% of all people from KwaZulu-Natal who are eligible, have come forward and got vaccinated.”
Zikalala said it would be a tragedy if the fourth wave of the pandemic caused more loss of lives due to the low rate of vaccination.
The premier urged members of the public to go out in their numbers and get vaccinated, to help the province reach its goal of 7.2 million vaccinations by December.
Zikalala said the province would intensify its vaccination programme to reach population immunity by adding more vaccination sites and easily accessible facilities.
Speaking about sports fans being allowed back into stadiums, Zikalala said it was a step in the right direction.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction because the sports economy contributes a lot in the development of our province. If we can come forward and also mobilise many others to get vaccinated, we have no doubt that the number of people who will be allowed to watch live sports at stadiums will be increased even further.”
The premier said that members of the public should be wary of the Covid-19 pandemic as the 2021 local government elections approached.
He urged the public to follow all Covid-19 protocols and not allow the local government elections to become a super-spreader event.
“We need to vaccinate. We need to ensure that the gathering of large crowds of people who will stand in queues as they wait for their chance to vote, do not turn into Covid-19 super-spreader events.”