RAMAPHOSA GIVES SA A SHOT IN THE ARM

Arthur Greene

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given new hope on Covid vaccines, promising that a first batch of 20 million doses is on the way.

Ramaphosa’s Monday night announcement – which included continued tough lockdown measures and the shutting of land borders – follows experts’ accusations that the government has done too little too late.

The president did not go into details on which vaccines, other than saying there are “several promising negotiations with a number of different manufacturers that still need to be concluded. We have to date secured 20 million doses to be delivered mainly in the first half of the year”. (Please see our guide to who’s who in the vaccine zoo)

Ramaphosa said SA was getting vaccines directly from manufacturers like this, as well as:

  • the global COVAX programme, which would give vaccines to 10% of SA’s  population, and 
  • the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to source vaccine doses for the continent.

“We will administer vaccinations through hospitals, clinics, outreach services and mobile clinics, and private settings such as doctor’s offices, pharmacies and work places.” 

There remain many challenges to vaccine rollout, including many anti-vaxxers.

Away from the positive news on vaccines, Ramaphosa warned that the pandemic was at its worst since it started and lockdown measures have to get even tougher.

Government is closing 20 land border crossings (apart from exceptions such as trade) including Beitbridge, the major gateway to Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, SA remains on level 3. This means:

  • Most indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited. “As before, this does not include funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums and gyms”
  • Funerals – maximum 50 people
  • 9pm to 5am curfew
  • Masks in public
  • Alcohol sales banned
  • “All beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed to the public.

“As before, botanical gardens, national parks and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place may remain open to the public.”

Picture source: @CyrilRamaphosa