People should continue adhering to COVID-19 safety regulations: SAMRC

SABC News COVID 19 R 1  - People should continue adhering to COVID-19 safety regulations: SAMRC

The South African Medical Research Council ( SAMRC) says despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, people must ensure they continue adhering to COVID-19 safety regulations to avoid a second wave of infections.

SAMRC made these comments after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Wednesday night on the amendments of Alert Level one regulations.

The sale of alcohol at retail outlets is being restored to normal trading hours and South Africa is being allowed to open up international travel to all countries, subject to the necessary health protocols.

South Africa has recorded over 742 000 cases since the start of the pandemic and 20 000 COVID-19 related deaths.

SAMRC Vice President for Research Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele says, “He had to come up with something that would be a lenient situation. If you allow normal operating hours for the sale of liquor and you lift the restrictions on international travel to come to SA, obviously that might contribute to increasing the number of cases. But it looks like there are litigation measures in place. If we are able to practice or implement these litigation measures, we should strike a balance in terms of controlling the infections.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on COVID-19 response:

Preventing a resurgence

Ramaphosa says as long as people observe all the necessary health protocols and remaining restrictions, there is no need to go back to higher lockdown levels.

He says the international community has commended the country for how it handled the pandemic.

However, he says in order to prevent a resurgence in cases, attention must be given to certain areas, including the Eastern Cape. The province recorded 50% more cases last week than it did the previous week.

“And the total number of new cases in the last 14 days was around 145% higher than the previous 14 days. These increases are being driven by massive spikes in the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Sarah Baartman District in particular,” says the President.

Ramaphosa says poor adherence to social distancing, wearing masks and poor hygiene will allow for rising infections.

Vaccine

Ramaphosa says an effective and safe vaccine is our greatest defence against COVID-19.

“Earlier this week, the world witnessed a game-changer in the world of science regarding the development of a vaccine. This is the first evidence that an effective vaccine against a coronavirus is possible and that the preliminary data from the research suggests that it may be more than 90% effective. This changes our perspective of the future of the coronavirus pandemic. This development brings new hope in our fight against this virus.”

He says South Africa is collaborating with several multinational pharmaceutical companies to obtain a safe and effective vaccine.

An estimated $12 billion and 750 million doses of an effective vaccine will be needed in Africa.

Ramaphosa, in his capacity as a Chairperson of the African Union, established the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to lead the effort for the vaccine.

“South Africa has also been appointed as a co-chair of the global ACT-A initiative that is facilitating access to innovative interventions, including vaccines, for all countries. Countries are going to have to allocate funding so that there can be access to vaccines to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus,” says Ramaphosa.

He says Johnson & Johnson has entered into a preliminary agreement with a local company, Aspen Pharmacare, to manufacture and package its candidate vaccine.

“Aspen has the capacity to manufacture 300 million doses of the candidate vaccine at its Nelson Mandela Bay plant. This is a life-saving medical product that will be needed across the world, which will be manufactured by South African workers.”

He says Biovac, a local biopharmaceutical company that is in partnership with the South African government, is in advanced talks with an international vaccine manufacturer that would also enable it to locally manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure sufficient supply for our country and the continent.

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