South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced that the nation will move from coronavirus alert level three to level one in light of the dip in daily new infections.
The announcement by the country’s president will be welcomed as good news for a strained health system following the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“New infections, admissions to hospitals and deaths have fallen significantly and continue to decline steadily,” the President said in an address.
“In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10,000 new infections. A month ago, in the last week of January, the country recorded over 40,000 new cases. And a month before that, in the last week of December, the country recorded close on to 90,000 new cases.”
Mr Ramaphosa added that the country had secured a further 11 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson — which is expected to provide 57-85 per cent efficacy against mild to severe disease caused by the more contagious coronavirus strain present in the country.
A swift switch from the previously acquired one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which provided only 22% protection against mild to moderate disease caused by the COVID-19 variant now dominant in South Africa.
As part of the rollout, over 67,000 frontline healthcare workers have been vaccinated over the last ten days — with the number of vaccination sites available in the country expanding from 17 to 49.
South Africa is the country hardest hit by the pandemic in all of Africa, with a cumulative total of more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and nearly 50,000 deaths.