Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde has warned against the potential resurgence in Covid-19 cases in South Africa – as part of a third wave of infection.
“We will face another wave of Covid-19 infections in our country,” Winde said in his State of the Province Address on Wednesday (17 February).
“We must make sure we are fully prepared to save lives, to save jobs and to bring hope back in 2021. To achieve this objective, the Western Cape Government has adopted a four-pronged strategy,” he said.
This includes the preparation of a successful rollout of vaccines.
While it is not possible to know precisely when this third wave will start, a surge will likely take place during the South African winter, he said.
#WCSOPA2021 📢 “We will face another wave of Covid-19 infections in our country. We must make sure we are fully prepared to save lives, to save jobs & to bring hope back in 2021. To achieve this objective, the Western Cape Government has adopted a four-pronged strategy.” pic.twitter.com/ftaLSrOPL2
— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) February 17, 2021
His warning dovetails that of health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who said earlier this month that South Africa should prepare for the impact of a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections.
Mkhize said that there is a possibility that the third wave could be even more damaging than the previous two waves which have hit the country.
“What we have seen is that in most of the countries the second wave has come to be much heavier, fiercer, and cost more lives. It is also likely that we might face a third wave,” he said. “There is no way of being able to prevent it (the third wave). Its impact will probably be more devastating.”
Nations globally have rushed to access Covid-19 vaccine supply in recent months, to offset any further pandemic spread.
South Africa meanwhile, began administering the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to health workers on Wednesday, following the arrival of a consignment of the shots.
“To demonstrate our confidence in this vaccine and help allay any fears that people may have, the Minister of Health and I will join the first health care workers to receive the vaccine in Khayelitsha,” president Cyril Ramaphosa said ahead of the programme.
President Ramaphosa and Dr Mkhize, will witness the first health care workers receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The vaccine, which has been approved by the South African Health Products Authority, arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng on Tuesday night.
The first batch of 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being prepared for distribution across South Africa with immediate effect.
President Ramaphosa on Wednesday said he is pleased that the country is able to begin vaccination by mid-February, as announced.
“This is despite the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine that we had procured for this purpose showed little efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant, which is currently dominant in South Africa.
“I would like to congratulate the Vaccine Inter-Ministerial Committee, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize and his team, and the Medical Research Council for responding so rapidly and effectively to this challenge,” president Ramaphosa said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown in extensive trials to be safe and efficacious, and will protect health care workers from illness and death from Covid-19.
“We have called on leaders in various sectors and parts of the country to lead by example and get inoculated publicly. We will therefore witness some Premiers, MECs and leaders from civil society, religious formations and traditional leadership being being vaccinated in all provinces.
“We have chosen vaccination and we call on all South Africans to choose vaccination and protect one another,” the president said.
The latest Covid-19 stats showed that the country has a cumulative number of 1,494,119 Covid-19 cases, with 1,210 new cases recorded on Tuesday evening.
The cumulative total of tests conducted to date is 8,737,330 with 24,486 new tests recorded since the last report. As many as 219 new deaths have been reported, taking the total to 48,313 deaths from the virus.