The Minister of Heath Dr Joe Phaahla has delivered his weekly Covid-19 briefing for South Africa. In the briefing he discussed the vaccination rollout, Covid-19 infection statistics and the topic of vaccination certificates/passports.
On Thursday, South Africa recorded 4 215 new Covid-19 cases and reported 311 Covid-19 related deaths. Phaalha says the numbers concerning however, the downward trend indicates that the country is moving away from the third wave. This resulted in President Cyril Ramaphosa moving the country from alert level 3 to alert level 2.
Minister Phaalha said “This third wave has been very long… but there is light at the end of the tunnel. As of [Thursday], our infection rate over the last seven days… has been down by at least 35% in the third wave. Hospitalisation is down by at least 12.5%.
Phaahla has addressed the topic of vaccination certificates/vaccine passports. He ensured the public that the introduction of vaccination certificates is not meant to deny unvaccinated citizens access to public spaces.
He said that the unvaccinated will not be prevented from accessing any essential services and public services. He says the vaccine certificate is to show that more economic and recreational activities can take place.
“I want to emphasise that this certificate will not prevent people from accessing essential services, especially public services. You will not be required to show a certificate to get to the clinic. I have heard… [claims] that we want to deny people services. That is not going to happen”. said Phaalha.
The health minister also revealed that more than 7.7 million people in South Africa are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This means that they either received one dose of the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
He says that more than 220 450 were administered on Thursday which took the country's total number of Covid-19 vaccines administered to 15.6 million.
The minister said that between 15 and 17 million people would need to get their Covid-19 jabs in order for the country to have a ‘very good Christmas’.
“If we ramp up vaccination, we are certain that we can reclaim the kind of life we are all missing. We can get more social activities and even more economic activities including sports, arts and culture events,” said Phaalha.
He also highlighted the impact of the pandemic on mental health in the country.
He said “it's a sad situation and we appreciate the fact that so much has been sacrificed. We are missing those big gatherings. Part of the result of this is that we are starting to see more mental health problems…in younger people. There were reports which showed a lot of anxiety and depression in younger people”.
He called on people in South Africa to get vaccinated as it can lead to improvement in the quality of life in the country.