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South Africa forced to reintroduce restrictions as COVID third wave hits hard

South Africa has been forced to bring back stringent COVID-19 control measures after the country’s daily infections surged as the third wave hit hard.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government would impose strict new measures for the next 14 days to check the spread of the infection.

Between Saturday and Sunday, the country recorded close to 33,000 new cases. There were nearly 18,000 cases on Saturday and 15,036 on Sunday.

Measures to limit contact

“These additional restrictions are necessary,” Ramaphosa said, “Our focus is on limiting the social contacts while preserving the economy.”

In the new measures announced, the government has banned all large public gatherings, with a 9 PM to 4 AM curfew imposed. Additionally, they also banned the sale of alcohol.

“We will assess the impact of the interventions after the 14 days to determine whether we will need to maintain them or adjust them,” Ramaphosa said.

Nearly 2 million cases

South Africa is Africa’s worst-hit country, with total cases likely to cross 2 million in the coming days. Currently, the country has 1,928,897 confirmed COVID-19 infections. The country has also seen the deaths from the infection rise to 59,900. 122 more people died between Saturday and Sunday.

South Africa is the location for a new hub that WHO is building, a hub that would allow for exchanging knowledge on vaccine manufacturing.

Johnson & Johnson also collaborated with a South African vaccine manufacturing facility. The deal would produce at least 400 million doses of the antidote for Africa.

Slow vaccine rollout

However, despite all this, vaccine rollout in South Africa has been slow. Indeed, the government has given only about 2.7 million doses against the population of 60 million. The country also recently got 1.4 million doses from Pfizer through COVAX, adding to 1.2 million obtained from J&J.

The situation in South Africa mirrors many more in other African countries, with vaccine rollout very low as infections soar. WHO DG, Dr Tedros Adhanom, recently criticized the rich nations for vaccine hoarding.

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