POLL | Who do you think is best to lead SA through the Covid-19 pandemic?
It has been nearly a year since SA confirmed its first case of Covid-19 in March, with more than a million cumulative infections and recoveries since then.
The government has, in its efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, implemented various measures including introducing lockdowns and regulations such as compulsory mask wearing in public spaces, beach closures in hotspot areas and temporary bans on the sale of alcohol.
Opposition politicians like John Steenhuisen and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, and prominent figures like former public protector Thuli Madonsela have been vocal about the government's response to the pandemic.
SA has been on level 3 lockdown since December 28. In his recent address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of level 3 restrictions until further notice.
Prominent in his speech was SA's progress to secure the vaccine. Ramaphosa said its rollout is expected to be “the largest and most complex logistical undertaking in our country’s history”.
He said it will be bigger than the HIV treatment programme or the national and local elections in terms of the numbers of people who will be reached in a short space of time. SA aims to vaccinate 67% of its population by the end of the year — an estimated 40 million people.
The president said the government is in talks with various vaccine manufacturers and has secured 20 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine which are expected to be delivered within the first half of the year.
Here's the latest on what has been said about Covid-19 so far:
Former public protector Madonsela said the government should put emphasis on behavioural change and not just wait on the vaccine to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. She acknowledged that the current state of infections is of great concern, though saying “it's not as bad as it looks”.
Madonsela said the government should have collaborated more with other stakeholders.
“The Disaster Management Act requires a collaborative approach where provinces are not consulted but are included. There is a difference between collaborating and consulting.
“We should not have a situation where all answers come from government quarters because the coronavirus is an unusual challenge and we should all be putting on our thinking hats.”
EFF MP Ndlozi recently called for SA to buy a single dose of the vaccine and for scientists to reproduce it for the larger population.
“We must buy exactly one vaccine, copy it and reproduce it in bulk for ourselves in SA. Medical patents during such a deadly pandemic are completely wrong, inhuman and must be rejected by all of humanity. No patent on any vaccine — put lives before profit,” he said.
Party leader Julius Malema has previously criticised the government on a number of issues including the booze ban, the health-care system and allegations of personal protective equipment (PPE) corruption.
Prof Salim Abdool Karim
Abdool Karim, the chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, said during a recent interview on SAFM that the committee was wrong in its prediction of the surge of infections during the second wave.
They had predicted that the increase would start around December 16 when more people begin to travel for the holidays and that the surge would be in January.
“We thought the second surge would be around January. Well, I was wrong,” he said.
Abdool Karim also said it was still unclear whether the vaccine would be effective with the new strain of Covid-19 in SA. He said the results would be available in two weeks.