REMARKS BY MINISTER OF HEALTH DURING VIRTUAL MEDIA BRIEFING PROGRAMME ON SA RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC – FRIDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2021
Thanks Facilitator Mr Foster Mohale
Greetings to Deputy Minister Dr Dhlomo and MEC Sambatha,
And other panellists,
Members of the media, viewers and listeners.
It’s our pleasure and privilege to again be back to share with South Africans progress and challenges in the fight against COVID-19, the invisible enemy.
I am pleased to report that we are steadily getting out of the grip of the third wave driven by the Delta variant. Nationally there has been a 24% drop in new cases compared to 7 days before. Over this period the highest case incidence has been in the N Cape province, followed by F State and then KZN in terms of cases per 100 000 population.
Hospitalization over the 7 days has also gone down by 10% with the W Cape still the highest per population followed by F State and Gauteng.
In the last 24 hours , the 6 270 total new cases is consistent with a downward trend of new infections but surprisingly the highest number of cases were recorded in the W Cape at 23,6%, KZN 19,5% and E Cape 17,8%; so the trend of highest along the coast continues even though even though KZN has been leading for many days before yesterday.
Active cases were highest in the F. State, Northern Cape, KZN and W cape.
The positivity rate has come down from the highest level of 35% in mid-July to 12% yesterday. Gauteng has gone down to below 5% at 4, 4% which is where we need to go as a country. Gauteng and Limpopo provinces have exited the third wave officially and hope other provinces will follow suit. There is no room for complacency
We must again thank our health workers for keeping up the gallant task of saving life’s on the front line not only from COVID-19 but from other diseases as well. Sadly we continue to lose many more South Africans daily, 84 327 by yesterday.
The vaccination campaign is maintaining a steady momentum but it needs to gather more speed. We are very glad that we have in our panel today a well-known TV personality who has agreed to come and share her story of comorbidities, struggle with COVID-19 infection and ultimately vaccination, we thank Ms Karyn Mauhgan who will speak you later.
Workplace vaccinations are also playing a major role in our campaign and we will hear more from B4SA which has been Co-ordinating workplace vaccinations, this is an alliance of volunteers working with government and social partners to mobilize business resources and capacity to combat COVID-19.
Our total vaccinations yesterday was 225 550 doses administered which is still far short of the 300 000 target especially if we consider that the number includes second doses of Pfizer. The total dose administered reached 14 367 151 yesterday, with 10 510 378 individuals vaccinated with at least one dose constituting 26,41% of the adult population and 7 021 256 people were fully vaccinated which is 17,64% of all adults.
We still need to reach 18m more adults to achieve 70% coverage of all adults with at least one dose by December. When we get more J&J vaccines we will be able to increase full vaccinations by a single dose. Female clients are still higher at 57,7% and males 42,3%.
We have taken note of complaints about delay in SMS’s to confirm bookings and today we can announce that we have activated a self- booking feature on the EVDS . You can select a date, time and vaccination site of your choice. You go on vaccine.booking.health.gov.za. Unfortunately you cannot choose the vaccine at this stage as that depends on what is available and currently we have more Pfizer than J&J. Both vaccines are safe and effective.
We are aware of the debate around the vaccination passport which is required by some counties for international travel. In our case we still require only a less than 72hours PCR COVID-19 test for traveling. We have however commenced with the development of a digital vaccination certificate to confirm that a person has been vaccinated. We have made sure that the certificate is protected from fraud and can be uploaded on your smartphone and is printable. This initiative is in line with the WHO initiated vaccination certificate attempting to standardize vaccination proof in the world.
We know that local elections are on the horizon. We aim to integrate the registration weekend announced by the IEC with the vaccination campaign. Our current target is the same age as the voting age so there’s alignment. We advise voters and candidates to be vaccinated to ensure safe elections. We will work with the IEC and political parties to encourage vaccination during the registration weekend and during the campaigns.
We are pleased with the “Return to Play Campaign” launched by the Deputy President and Minister of Arts, Culture and Sport which is the first step to reopen places of sport and entertainment. We are looking forward to a vibrant campaign working with Sports, Music and other Arts and Culture personalities to promote vaccination which will lead to better safety and gradual opening of stadiums and other entertainment venues.
Remember the vaccines we are using have been well tested for safety and effectiveness. Do not be confused by antivax campaigners. The record that vaccines prevent serious illness and death is there for everyone to see. A brighter future beyond COVID-19 is possible if we work together, let us all play our roles.
I thank you