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South Africa keen on vaccination as COVID-19 soar

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has said that getting enough vaccines as quickly as possible and making sure it reaches the people who need them will be one of the biggest tasks of the year, as new infections of COVID-19 increasing far faster and far higher than before.

He made this known on his weekly letter for 2021, on Monday, Ramaphosa said the year will be extremely challenging, as the second wave of COVID-19 infections may well be followed by further waves, which will threaten both the health of the people and the recovery of the economy.

“The first two weeks of the year have been difficult for all South Africans. The coronavirus pandemic has gotten worse, with new infections increasing far faster and far higher than before. Hospitals have been under great strain as more people have needed medical attention.
 
“While most economic sectors have been able to operate again for several months, it will take some time for the economy to recover and for lost jobs to be restored. As the new year starts, many families are still feeling the effects of the pandemic on their lives and livelihoods”, he said. 

He commended the South African people for their resilience, discipline and ability to defeat this disease. “My confidence comes from the South African people. Though, there were exceptions, but the vast majority of South Africans understood the need for restrictions on their movement, activities, and complied with the regulations.

“Even more important than compliance, most South Africans took responsibility for themselves and for others, following advice on issues like social distancing, wearing a mask and hand washing. We now know about the risks of closed spaces and crowded gatherings, of not wearing masks and not keeping our distance from others”.

He added that it will be particularly challenging as every country in the world is clamouring to secure a limited supply of vaccines. “But we are hard at work with partners in business, labour and civil society to make this happen. We are working on several fronts to get vaccines, including the global COVAX facility, the African Union initiative and through our own engagements with vaccine manufacturers.

“As we act together to overcome the pandemic, we will need to work together to rebuild and transform our economy. We have both the ability and the will to stimulate economic activity, grow our economy and create jobs. And to do so in the midst of a pandemic”, he said

Ramaphosa noted that public finances are under extreme strain, now even more because of the cost of the health response to COVID-19 and the social and economic relief measures put in place to assist businesses and poor households. “The contraction of the economy also meant that tax revenue has declined significantly.

“There are some parts of the economy that will take longer to recover due to lower global demand generally and restrictions on international travel.That is why we need to be innovative and focused in our plans to rebuild the economy.

“Significantly, the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that we announced in October last year is based on broad consensus among all social partners on the actions needed to rebuild the economy. This lays a firm basis for effective cooperation that draws on the resources, capabilities and energies of all sections of society”, he said.





 


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