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Two Years On, South Africa Continues Fight Against COVID-19

People queue for a PCR COVID-19 test at the Lancet laboratory in Johannesburg on November 30, 2021. (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP)

 

Saturday marked two years since South Africa recorded its first ever COVID-19 infection, and yet the country continues its efforts to contain the virus.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the first case on March 5, 2020, a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020.

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Since then, South Africa has registered a total of 3,681,437 COVID-19 infections, accounting for more than a third of the total cases reported in Africa.

Gauteng province has reported the country’s highest infections tally, with a total of 1,195,572. This is higher than the individual national tallies reported by all other African countries.

KwaZulu-Natal has registered 653,402 infections while the Western Cape Province has reported 641,507 so far.

The country’s death toll, at 99,517, represents nearly 40 percent of Africa’s virus-related fatalities.

Since March 2020, the country has experienced four waves of the pandemic, including the last in end-2021 that was mainly driven by the Omicron variant.

The country is banking on vaccinations to contain the further spread of the virus.

By Saturday, 31,989,917 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across the country.

The inoculations are complemented by a level-1 lockdown, which prescribes various containment measures for the general population.

The containment measures include 7-day isolation mandates for persons that test positive with symptoms.

Experts have urged for vigilance even as the country continues to see a dip in new infections, though some believe the trajectory could prompt the government to ease restrictions further, including the removal of mask mandates.

“I don’t know what government’s plans are with removing masks but what we’ve seen from other countries is that we have reached a stage where we can change our overall strategy, we can remove most of our restrictions and public health measures at this point,” said Salim Abdool Karim, the former head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19.

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Written by PH

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