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A ’good Christmas’ on the cards with decreasing Covid-19 cases, says Health Minister Joe Phaahla

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Health Minister Joe Phaahla said a further easing of the Covid-19 restrictions could be expected for South Africa with cases decreasing.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

A further easing of the Covid-19 restrictions and a “good Christmas” could be expected for South Africa as the country continues to see a sustained decrease in cases, said Health Minister Joe Phaahla.

The minister was speaking during a health briefing in the Free State on Friday.

“If we continue to comply with the health and safety measures, more relaxations will be on the way – if we all behave,” he said.

The country has been on lockdown Level 2 since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that restrictions on gatherings and the movement of people would be eased.

Within the next week the country will hear from the government again, as the president said the current restrictions would be reviewed.

The Department of Health has set a target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population before Christmas. Currently 28% of the group have been immunised.

“We are making a lot of progress in terms of vaccinations. We are not exactly at the target yet, so we still have a lot of work to do. We are at 28% and we hope that we can still reach another 17 million people, which will take us to 70%,” Phaahla said.

“If we can get closer to the minimum of 60% fully vaccinated, I can tell you we are going to have a good Christmas. If we ramp up vaccinations, we can get more social activities and economic activities running.”

More than 15.5 million Covid-19 doses have been administered in the country with 11 million people having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“As at yesterday, the overall number of new cases compared to the last seven days, are down by 35%. Hospitalisation is down by 12.5%, and the positivity rate is also down by 9.5%,” he said.

The National Institute For Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported on Thursday that the majority of new Covid-19 cases were from Western Cape (21%), followed by the Eastern Cape with 20%, and KwaZulu-Natal accounting for 19%.

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