CORONAVIRUS WEEKLY DIGEST #35

SA officially enters third wave while J&J jabs are stuck in limbo

By Christi Nortier 11 June 2021

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

This week, South Africa officially entered its third wave of Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, the vaccine roll-out continued without the Johnson & Johnson shot, and the IEC acknowledged its concern that the October local government election could turn into a superspreader event.

On 10 June 2021, South Africa technically entered the third wave of Covid-19 infections, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

This was according to what the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 considered a new wave – one that starts when the seven-day moving average of new infections surpasses 30% of the previous wave.

The seven-day moving average is now 5,959. The peak of the second wave was 19,042 on 11 January. Therefore, the current average is now 31,29% of the peak of the second wave.

Read more: How do we know if South Africa is in a third wave – and could there be a fourth?

Western Cape is the fifth province to declare a third wave

The Western Cape is officially in a third wave, according to Premier Alan Winde and provincial health department head Dr Keith Cloete. There were 6,108 active cases as of 11 June. It joins Gauteng, North West, the Free State and the Northern Cape in declaring a third wave. Read the report by Suné Payne.

Third wave gathers momentum across southern Africa

Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also facing the start of a third wave of infections. The World Health Organization has raised its concern that healthcare systems across Africa are “far from ready” to cope with a fresh surge of coronavirus infections. Meanwhile, only 1.88% of vaccine doses administered globally have been given in African countries. Read the report by Tatenda Mazarura and Mark Heywood.

Week Four: No J&J jabs yet, Mkhize put on special leave

This week, the US Food and Drug Administration failed to announce its much-promised decision on releasing millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses from Aspen’s Gqeberha plant. Meanwhile, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was placed on special leave and the Department of Health assured South Africa it is “committed and capable” of continuing the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.

Catch up on the week’s roll-out news:

Monday, 7 June: No word on Johnson & Johnson vaccine; new registration portal opens for healthcare workers

Tuesday, 8 June: Minister Mkhize placed on special leave as Northern Cape and Netcare face supply constraints

Wednesday, 9 June: A million Pfizer doses administered; Health department rolls up its sleeves without Mkhize

Thursday, 10 June: Western Cape to open ICC as mega site; FNB urges customers to get the jab

IEC worried about superspreader election

The Electoral Commission launched a campaign this week to encourage voter registration, but not without voicing its concern that the October local government election could turn into a Covid-19 superspreader event. However, postponing elections would harm democracy, it said. Nevertheless, it is confident it can pull off a safe election – it has held 150 by-elections since the pandemic began. Read the report by Ferial Haffajee.

Covid-19 spreads in Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape schools

The Free State, Gauteng and the Northern Cape have entered a third wave of Covid-19 infections and their schools have seen an uptick in cases. Several have closed or moved classes online as a result, while it remains uncertain when teachers will receive their Covid-19 vaccine.

Covid-19 and the right to basic education: The SA Human Rights Commission’s position

Baxter Theatre forced to cancel two shows

Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre has had to cancel two productions because adjusted Level 2 regulations reduced the audience size from 250 to 100. The theatre’s capacity is 680 people. In addition, some company members have tested positive for Covid-19. The shows have been pushed to 2022, but in the meantime the theatre has to fundraise to survive. Read the report by Karabo Mafolo here. DM/MC

Gallery

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