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The big story: Bad news comes in threes

Despite our earlier optimism, the third Covid wave is rapidly starting to look like it will outpace the first and second. In the last 24 hours, 13 246 new cases were reported and hospital admissions are rising. Gauteng is becoming the epicentre this time; its hospitals are close to being overwhelmed 

In case you missed it, on Tuesday evening President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving to lockdown level 3 from Wednesday, as the third wave gets serious. 

Here’s a quick recap of what’s allowed now: 

  • Curfew imposed from 10pm to 4am (restaurants must close at 9pm). 
  • Indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100.
  • Alcohol for off-site consumption can only be sold between 10am and 6pm, Monday to Thursday and until 9pm for on-site consumption. Drinking in public spaces like parks and beaches is not allowed.  

By now you may have also heard that we’ve had to throw away two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, after a contamination incident at a US manufacturing facility. South Africa’s own J&J vaccine, which is being made at the Aspen manufacturing facility in the Eastern Cape, was then delayed. 

You’re probably asking: “What does the US’s contamination have to do with vaccines manufactured in SA?”. The US plant creates the active ingredient we use to manufacture our own vaccine. 

This obviously delays our own rollout strategy – but this time, it wasn’t our fault. On Tuesday Ramaphosa announced that we’ll receive another two million doses of the J&J vaccine in the coming weeks; these will be administered to teachers and security guards. In addition, SA expects to receive a total of 3.1 million Pfizer doses by the end of June.

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema said he’d reject the level 3 regulations until Ramaphosa gives us vaccines. Malema said new regulations would only worsen the unemployment crisis, whereas vaccines would enable job creation. We hear you, Malema, but we don’t agree with shunning regulations. The last thing we need is political interference and a call for complacency.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 17 June 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates