President Ramaphosa to address South Africa on COVID-19 response

FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa bumps elbows with an attendant at a past function. /VCG

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation later today on the developments in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The presidency has announced that Ramaphosa’s address will begin at 17GMT (8:00 pm local time).

South Africa remains to be the hardest hit African country by the COVID-19 pandemic, having reported 1,453,761 infections with 44,164 deaths.

The figures represent 41.36 percent of the continent’s caseload and 49.63 percent of its fatalities.

Various government-imposed measures remain in place in efforts to contain the virus, including a ban on large public gatherings, a ban on alcohol sale, a nighttime curfew and the closure of schools and beaches.

The measures are part of a Level 3 lockdown that has lasted since December.

The presidency has been under pressure from some quarters to ease some of the restrictions in efforts to avoid an economic meltdown.

The country expects to receive its first batch of coronavirus vaccines this week, with a roll out of mass vaccinations expected to begin shortly after.

The first one million shots of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine produced in India will be used to inoculate healthcare workers over the next three months. The second batch of 500,000 jabs is scheduled to arrive later in February.