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Cabinet concerned religious gatherings for Easter could contribute to third wave

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Cabinet has raised concerns over the upcoming Easter, Pesach and Ramadaan celebrations contributing to a potential third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. Picture: @GovernmentZA/Twitter

Durban – The Cabinet has raised concerns over the upcoming Easter, Pesach and Ramadaan celebrations contributing to a potential third wave of Covid-19 infections.

In a post-Cabinet meeting briefing on Thursday, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni reported that the Cabinet called on everyone in the country to play their part and strictly adhere to the lockdown restrictions over the upcoming religious holidays.

“Cabinet further reiterated the importance of observing the non-pharmaceutical health protocols to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 by continuing to wear masks in public spaces, maintaining social distancing of at least 1.5 metres, always washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and avoiding large gatherings,” Ntshavheni reported.

She said that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) would be meeting to consider additional and strict measures to be out in place to avoid a resurgence of the virus over the upcoming religious events.

“I cannot preempt those decisions and recommendations that will be taken by the NCCC. They will meet and consider all the options and then report back to the nation via a family meeting called by the president,” Ntshavheni said.

Reporting on the Covid-19 Sisonke vaccination roll-out programme, Ntshavheni said the programme has been extended to 54 vaccine sites across the country with 207 808 people already vaccinated.

The government expects to vaccinate 1.5 million health-care workers by May 17 as part of Phase 1 of the roll-out programme.

Phase 2 is expected to be implemented over six months from May to October. This phase will cover over 13 million vulnerable groups, including workers in sectors that are critical for economic recovery such as mines, hospitality, the taxi industry, retail, media, teachers and police officers.

Phase 3 is expected to be implemented over three months, from November this year to February 2022, to cover the remainder of the people in South Africa.

Ntshavheni said the Cabinet also welcomed the continual arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the country and that the recent approval by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine should give the country access to more life-saving vaccines.

“Cabinet remains confident of the remarkable progress being made by Sahpra in authorising the J&J vaccine for mass vaccination,” Ntshavheni said.

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Political Bureau