Government confirms Easter plan under discussion, spells out dates for vaccine rollout

Essential workers to get the jab from May, phase 3 to start in November

25 March 2021 - 14:08
By andisiwe makinana AND Andisiwe Makinana
Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. File photo.

The national coronavirus command council (NCCC) is considering proposals on how to manage the spread of the coronavirus over the Easter holidays, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has confirmed.

“The NCCC is considering measures that should be implemented during that period and we cannot discuss the advice provided either by the ministerial advisory committee or the Nat-joint to the NCCC,” said Ntshavheni on Thursday.

She said the plans would look at managing the Easter period, Jewish Passover and Ramadan that will follow afterwards.

I can't pre-empt the advice and the decisions of the NCCC that will then be recommended to cabinet.

There are plans on the table that are being considered and when the decisions have been made, we all know as South Africans, the president will convene a 'family meeting' and communicate those decisions,” she said, without giving further details.

Ntshavheni also revealed that phase 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination rollout plan will only be concluded on May 17.

She denied that the government had committed to finish this by the end of March, saying she only recalls health minister Zweli Mkhize committing to vaccination of 1.5 million health-care workers by end of phase 1.

In this cabinet statement we have just clarified that phase 1 will end on May 17,” she said.

Ntshavheni said from the briefings by the health department and the interministerial committee on vaccination, SA was on course to meet the target.

In the prepared statement, the cabinet said phase 1 was being implemented over three months from February to April 2021, to target more than 1.5 million [608,295 registered] health-care workers countrywide.

“The department of health is on track to vaccinate all health-care workers by the end of phase 1.”

Ntshavheni said phase 2 will be implemented over six months, starting from May to October 2021.

This phase will be covering more than 13,350,000 people from vulnerable groups, essential workers, and occupational health and safety workers in sectors that are critical for economic recovery, such as mines, hospitality, taxi industry, retail and spaza shops, fruit and vegetable vendors, media and other applicable beneficiaries.

She said the vaccination sites for phases 2 and 3 will expand to 2,085 and will also include private sector sites to improve the efficiency and speed of the rollout.

Phase 3 will be implemented over three months (November 2021 and February 2022) to cover the remainder of all people in SA, including those not vaccinated in phase 2, targeting 22,600,640.

Ntshavheni said the rollout programme has been extended to 54 vaccine sites across the country and has to date vaccinated more than 207,808 people.