Cabinet encourages more S Africans to vaccinate as it ends mask mandate

23rd June 2022 By: Sane Dhlamini - Creamer Media Researcher and Writer

Cabinet encourages more S Africans to vaccinate as it ends mask mandate

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said on Thursday that while Cabinet welcomed a significant drop in Covid-19 cases in the country, it is urging more South Africans to vaccinate against the virus, as South Africa joins the many countries that have done away with mask-wearing. 

Joining Gungubele at a media briefing was Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla, who gave an update on the late night gazette which saw government repeal major Covid-19 regulations on mask-wearing, gathering limits and travel requirements.

Phaahla thanked South Africans who adhered to the Covid-19 regulations, noting that it had not been easy.

The Department of Health faced legal action from some organisations, such as Solidarity, in a quest to get government to abandon the regulations.

“We appreciate the fact that notwithstanding those disagreements, even leading to court actions or threats of court action, essentially the main aim of our approach [of] flattening the curve did remain in place and a lot of South Africans supported that. We thank South Africans for their resilience in internalising various measures of prevention and mitigation against the virus,” said Phaahla.

He said the country’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic would help it against seasonal diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis.

Phaahla also thanked academia, religious organisations and other stakeholders who provided assistance in dealing with the pandemic.

While South Africa has not achieved 70% herd immunity, as of Wednesday, 37.7-million doses of vaccines have been administered to adults and children.

Phaahla applauded the big turnout of the over 60 age group, which has surpassed 70% coverage with at least one dose.

"We just need to end with caution that the Covid-19 virus is not yet gone, it is still in our midst, we are just stronger than before, especially with vaccination, and we urge those not yet vaccinated to come forward and those due for boosters to also come forward. The vaccination programme will remain and is now being integrated into normal health services," he said.

Meanwhile, Gungubele said the country would use the recently approved World Bank loan to purchase additional Covid-19 vaccines and to ensure that South Africa was adequately protected against potential infections.

TRUCKING STRIKE AND WATER

On the recent truck driver strike, Cabinet has welcomed the eleven-point plan discussed by the recent inter-Ministerial committee and trucking stakeholders.

Gungubele said protests and road blockages adversely impacted mobility, scared foreign investors and negatively affected the economy and essential supply chains.

On the water shortages being experienced in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB), the Minister said the Cabinet welcomed the much-needed interventions by the Department of Water and Sanitation to implement short- and long-term measures to mitigate the crisis.

Cabinet further urged NMB residents to adhere to the water restrictions imposed by the local municipality to ensure water security.

CRIME AND CORRUPTION

Cabinet applauded the work done by the Department of Home Affairs in eradicating corruption and fraud following the arrest of a Home Affairs official in Benoni who offered a Bangladesh national a South African identity document.

Gungubele also welcomed the arrest of an Independent Electoral Commission official in Umlazi for contravening the Municipal Electoral Act by voting 24 times during the 2021 municipal elections.

He said the arrest demonstrates a strong affirmation of the electoral system in the country which had since been strengthened with the introduction of a voter management device that prevented double counting.

“Cabinet affirmed that elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and must be protected at all costs,” said Gungubele.