Health department pushes for tighter lockdown restrictions in South Africa

Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says the department will make recommendations to the National Coronavirus command Council (NCCC) this week on further lockdown restrictions for South Africa.

Kubayi-Ngubane told the SABC that the country has not yet reached herd immunity and that South Africans cannot behave recklessly.

The minister said that the department had seen clear behavioural changes when the country moved up a lockdown level in the past, and that this is likely to be the case again when it makes its recommendations to the NCCC later this week.

She said that the opposite is also true: when the country moves down lockdown level, and the mentality shifts to ‘Covid-19 is gone’ and compliance drops.

This issue has exacerbated by ‘fake news’, she said, with South Africans thinking they cannot be reinfected if they have already had Covid-19 or had a vaccine.

“The issue that worries us the most is the complacency amongst South Africans when they see the lockdown level dropping,” she said.

South Africa reported 7,657 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday (13 December), taking the total reported to 1,747,082.

Deaths have reached 57,731, while recoveries have climbed to 1,606,581  leaving the country with a balance of 82,736 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 1,773,417.

South Africa’s vaccination efforts took a knock this week after the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that a large number of Johnson & Johnson vaccines are contaminated.

On Friday, the FDA said that some batches of the J&J version were not fit to use, while others are still under review. Two lots have been approved, though it’s not clear where those are headed or how many that covers.

The country’s health regulator has confirmed that these contaminated shots will not be used in South Africa.

South Africa is heavily reliant on the J&J vaccine to meet a target of inoculating two-thirds of its 60 million population this year, having ordered more than 31 million of the single-dose shots.

Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s largest drug maker, has a contract to fill and package the doses at a factory in the coastal town of Gqebherha.

Read: South Africa faces stricter lockdown as vaccine plans take major knock

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Health department pushes for tighter lockdown restrictions in South Africa