Almost 2 million people vaccinated, Ramaphosa says as he announces tougher lockdown restrictions
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Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday has announced that the pace of vaccinations in South Africa has steadily picked up, and the country is now vaccinating around 80 000 people a day at more than 570 sites in the public and private sector.
“This number will grow rapidly in the weeks to come, as we aim to protect as many vulnerable people as possible.
“The problems with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have now been resolved. As a result of these problems, two million doses that had already been produced are unusable,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation.
“The Aspen plant in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape is now able to go ahead and produce new doses. The company has committed to significantly ramp up production and begin supplying the country within the next few days. We have to date received nearly 2.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses.”
Ramaphosa says by the end of June, South Africa expects to have received a total of 3.1 million Pfizer doses.
“We have received an indication from Johnson & Johnson that it expects to deliver around two million vaccines to South Africa by the end of the month. The initial doses we receive from Johnson & Johnson will be used to vaccinate educators in our schools and thereafter security personnel on the frontline,” he said.
Ramaphosa said 480 000 health workers have so far received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to date as part of phase one of the vaccination programme.
“As part of phase two, a further 1.5 million health workers and people over the age of 60 have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This brings the total number of people who have received a vaccine dose to almost two million,” Ramaphosa said.
In the much awaited address to the nation on Tuesday night, Ramaphosa announced that South Africa was moving to a stricter level three lockdown as the country experiences an exponential rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.
“The massive surge in news infections means that we must again tighten restrictions on the movement of persons and gatherings. We need to enforce compliance more rigorously and we need to take firmer action on those who do not adhere to the regulations that save our lives,” Ramaphosa said.
“In view of the rising infections, Cabinet has therefore decided to move the country to Alert level three. This will take effect later this evening, once the regulations have been gazetted. This means that the hours of curfew will start at 10pm and end at 4am.”
The president said “non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars, and fitness centres” must close by 9pm, to allow employees and patrons to get home before the start of the curfew.
All gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors, and 100 people outdoors,” said Ramaphosa.
“The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will only be permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. This excludes public holidays. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 9pm. Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden.”
Earlier on Tuesday, figures show that South Africa’s Covid-19 death toll has climbed 58 041 after 162 more deaths have been recorded from the previous day.
This as a total of 8 436 new Covid-19 cases had been identified in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said.
This represented a 17.8 percent positivity rate the NICD noted.
African News Agency (ANA)