CORONAVIRUS WEEKLY DIGEST #30

Vaccination of healthcare workers resumes, activists call for extension to ‘lifeline’ Covid grant and sellers of fake test results exposed

By Christi Nortier 30 April 2021

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

This week, the vaccination of healthcare workers resumed. Phase 2 of the roll-out is little more than two weeks away and the final details are still being finalised. Meanwhile, civil society has called for the Social Relief of Distress Grant to be extended and authorities clamp down on fake Covid-19 test results.

Vaccination of healthcare workers restarts

On Wednesday, 28 April, the vaccination of South Africa’s healthcare workers resumed after the Department of Health approved the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine once again. The use was paused for health authorities to investigate a possible link between the jab and an extremely rare type of blood clot. The roll-out was paused for 15 days, during which no healthcare workers were vaccinated. By Friday, 20 April another 15,600 healthcare workers had been vaccinated.

There have already been “tremendous benefits” of this vaccine for the healthcare workers who have received it, said Professor Barry Schoub. He was speaking alongside Professor Kolea Mlisana, another lead Covid-19 adviser to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, during a Daily Maverick webinar. Schoub noted that there had been about 20 breakthrough infections, which had probably occurred in the 14 days after vaccination, which is when immunity develops. Read more here.

Phase 2 logistics ironed out

The official list of 3,357 vaccination sites as well as how the private sector will get Covid-19 vaccines is being finalised, Mkhize told Parliament this week. He assured MPs that the plans are near finalisation and that there will be more than enough doses to launch Phase 2 in about two weeks. As Marianne Merten writes, he encouraged leaders in all spheres to step forward and receive the vaccine. 

Call for increase and extension of Covid grant

Since January 2021, hundreds of civil society organisations have endorsed a call for the government to increase, expand and extend the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant. They say the grant has been a lifeline for six million people during the pandemic and there is no reason it should end given that the hardships brought by the pandemic are far from over. The grant was due to end on 30 April 2021. The day before, civil society rallied around this call once again. Read more here

Read more: ‘Rethink capitalism,’ says Thuli Madonsela – activists and academics unite to call for Basic Income Guarantee

Investigation reveals how bus company agents sell fake Covid-19 test results

An investigation by Daily Maverick journalist Patrick Egwu has revealed that bus company agents have been selling fake Covid-19 test results to passengers travelling from Johannesburg to neighbouring countries. The results are sold for R300. As a result of the investigation, staff have been suspended and internal investigations launched at one of the bus companies in question. Read the full investigation here.

African countries plan to meet over pandemic strategy

The increase in India’s Covid-19 infections and deaths has prompted African Union countries to call an emergency meeting of its health ministers. The countries will plan on how to avoid such a catastrophe in African states, said Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, they will strategise on how to best help India. Read more here.

Tender for Eastern Cape medical scooters to be scrapped

The Eastern Cape Department of Health used funds in 2020 to launch a medical scooter project. The matter was probed by the Special Investigating Unit, which has since applied to have the tender cancelled. The province and the company that won the tender, Fabkomp, have not opposed the application. Estelle Ellis unpacks the saga here.

Food gardens and kitchens thrive a year into the pandemic

More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, food gardens and community kitchens continue to serve their communities and are even expanding. In the inner-city of Johannesburg, the Makers Valley Partnership’s “food hub” has grown six community kitchens, a swap shop, soup kitchens and food parcel distribution. In Cape Town, the Kipling community garden is looking to expand way beyond its borders and create a green public space in Salt River. “Our garden is the most wonderful example of public space being used and one of the best things to come out of the pandemic,” says Zainap Salie, a founder of the garden. DM/MC

Gallery

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