South Africa hit a record of 26 000 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday, its second record-breaking tally in as many days, as a rampant third wave of infections coursed through a largely unvaccinated population.
The rampant rise in infections in Africa’s most industrialised nation has stretched health services to breaking point, with hospitals out of beds and medics to man them.
This compelled the government to reimpose strict measures including a partial lockdown and curfews to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
Data from the Department of Health showed South Africa has recorded a total of over 2 million cases and 61 500 deaths so far during the pandemic
Only 3.3 million people (5% of the population) have been vaccinated and the snail pace is attributed to a mixture of bad luck and bureaucratic failures. The government had to destroy 2 million contaminated Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccine doses earlier this year, while efforts to replace them have run up against global supply bottlenecks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised what he called global “vaccine apartheid,” with rich countries with plentiful vaccine supplies hoarding them while poorer countries wait.
To tackle this problem, South Africa on Saturday approved China’s Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19, as growing evidence emerges of its effectiveness.