South Africa’s Covid-19 deaths reach 40 000, Mkhize provides update on vaccines
Johannesburg - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced over 11 761 new infections and 575 more Covid-19 related deaths on Wednesday night.
This takes South Africa’s Covid-19 infections to over 1.3 million infections since March, with the death toll now 40 076 virus related deaths..
The number of recoveries in the country stands at over 1.2 million recoveries, which means there is a recovery rate of about 86% currently.
Mkhize said they had now tested over 7.8 million people in the private and public sector, with over 62 000 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.
The Eastern Cape province has the most deaths, with 9984, followed by the Western Cape with 9668, Gauteng, with 7396, and KZN, with 7177, have the most fatalities in the country.
Of the latest deaths, Mkhize said the majority of the deceased came from Gauteng, KZN, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
Gauteng - 166 deaths
Eastern Cape - 129
KZN - 133
Western Cape - 77
Free State - 37
Mpumalanga - 18
Northern Cape - 15
In providing an update on efforts to secure a vaccine, he said the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority had granted the necessary approvals for the Serum Institute of India Vaccine.
“We will, in the next coming days, engage with the public in order to give an update on the progress of the first batch of the vaccines that we committed would be received in the first quarter.
“At this stage we would like to assure South Africans that all is on track. We are working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation of the vaccine roll-out program.
“We also want to alert the public that in the past few days we have been inundated with offers from private agents who are selling vaccines. As a department we have resolved and wish to advise the public that it is critical that any such agent and vaccine authenticity must be verified directly with manufacturers.
“This is the only way, in our view, to guarantee the quality of the vaccines that may be acquired through third parties. Fortunately, as government, we have direct communication access with the manufacturers. For the protection of our citizens, we have put in place a process to verify any vaccines that are offered through third parties,” he said.
Mkhize said the country had seen a decline in transmission, with the positivity rate now at 19% from a high of 36% during the second wave, but he warned that the transmission levels were still high. This had also contributed to fewer hospital admissions, he said.
“We are hoping that this decline in numbers is going to bring the much required reprieve to our overwhelmed health facilities, both in the public and private sector.
“We are closely monitoring this to inform our process of recommending the review of some of the restrictions that are currently in place.
“We are very grateful to all South Africans for playing their role in mitigating the devastating effects of Covid-19. We do, however, continue to caution that the transmission rate is still very high and we need to ensure that it is reduced to an acceptable level before we can ease restrictions,” he said.
Mkhize called on the public to continue adhering to Covid-19 protocols of mask wearing, frequent sanitizing of hands and surfaces, and keeping a social distance.
“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated these patients,” said Mkhize.