South Africa extends COVID-19 restrictions, picks up vaccination pace

South Africa extends COVID-19 restrictions, picks up vaccination pace

The Delta variant is driving the third wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa, the ‘worst-hit’ on the continent.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently addressed the nation of South Africa. He said that their country’s health system “remains under pressure” as they hold a grip on the third wave of the pandemic.

In late June, he moved the nation to its fourth level of restriction. This comes after the surge of coronavirus infections climbed, making the country the “worst-hit” across the African continent.

Daily cases reached over 26,000 earlier this month. Reports said that it became a new record in the country, adding that this has since “stretched hospitals to breaking point.”

The number of cases seemingly decreased in the following weeks. But, Ramaphosa, alongside the cabinet, decided to extend the restrictions for another 14 days, according to Reuters.

South Africa remains in lockdown

On Sunday, the President of South Africa announced that the country would extend its strict lockdown for two weeks. Although it would maintain the alert level 4 of a five-tier restriction scale, there would be adjustments.

Starting on July 11, a ban on gatherings would continue, as well as the curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 in the morning. There would also be a prohibition on the sale of alcohol.

As for the adjustments, gyms and fitness centers may now reportedly reopen. Moreover, restaurants may also start again to serve goods on their respective premises. But, these would all be subject to strict protocols and “certain conditions.”

South Africa remains in lockdown

Hopes of ramping up daily vaccinations

In the same announcement, President Cyril Ramaphosa talked about the COVID-19 vaccinations, as well, across South Africa. He noted that an advisory committee in the government “was working on how soon to bring” the CoronaVac vaccine into their country’s immunization program.

The same publication, later on, added that the leader, alongside the country’s officials, is hoping to “ramp up daily vaccinations” in the next few weeks. They are reportedly aiming to reach a daily number of at least 300,000 by the end of August.

The hopes of increasing the vaccination pace come as the campaign remains slow in the country. Out of the population of 60 million, only 4.2 million doses were administered in totality.

“Too late” to reduce spike impact

Despite having such goals, though, experts assert that it is already “too late,” especially in terms of reducing the impact of the third wave of infections. Shabir Madhi of the University of Witwatersrand stated that, although the vaccination drive is “gathering momentum,” the current surge will “completely dwarf” what the country experienced during the first two waves of the pandemic.

The Associated Press said that South Africa “accounts for more than 35 percent” of the 5.8 million COVID-19 cases in Africa. This is despite the country being home to just over 4 percent of the entire continent’s population.

Images courtesy of DW News/YouTube

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