Thursday 11 March 2021, 08:36am / TI Reporter
HEALTH Minister Zweli Mkhize: Image Supplied
TI Reporter: HEALTH Minister Zweli Mkhize said the behaviour of South Africans would determine when the third wave would possibly arise.
Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly, on Wednesday, Mkhize said the second wave of infections would arise when significant people infected with Covid-19 interacted with other persons and neither applied health protocols.
Mkhize was asked if the third wave still held true in light of the roll-out of vaccine being in place amid speculations of a third wave of the pandemic.
He said super-spreader events posed a risk when a large portion of people at the event were infected and leave to infect other people outside the event.
Mkhize stated that the third wave could arise at any time as it only required a number of infected people to drop their guard.
“The timing of when the third wave arises is in the hands of South Africans. Our behaviour determines when the wave of infection will arise,” he said.
“There are no models that can accurately predict when the surge of infections develops and how severe it will be.
We remain concerned about the Easter period where traditionally you see people travel across provinces visiting families and large gatherings all of which could develop eventually into mass transmission and development of the next wave.”
He told MPs that the vaccines served to stimulate the immune system so that the body could fight off the virus when it entered the body.
The minister said vaccines did not have a sterilising effect as they did not prevent a vaccinated person from transmitting the virus to another person.
He said the government would continue to preach to the people the message of using masks, maintain social distancing and ensure their hands were sanitised and washed.
“This is important for us to continue with the message because using those methods will help. This will further delay in cases of resurgence.’
Mkhize said when restrictions were eased last year to level 1, people dropped the guard and behaved as if there was no risk of Covid-19.
“When we do so and go all out, starting mixing and congregating in overcrowded areas, the risk of infections arises.
“We need to send the message to South Africans, as we continue to do, that everyone must continue to take precautions because we still live with Covid-19,” he said.
Mkhize said the rate of vaccination was limited by the rate at which vaccines were delivered.
“At this point, it is limited. We are looking at smaller number of vaccines. We anticipate that the number of vaccines will rapidly increase from April, May and June. We will then be in a position to escalate the numbers of people vaccinated,” he said.
“We will do everything in our power to continue to reach as many people as possible with a target of more than 40 million by the end of the year.
“But, certainly the fact there may be a delay in supply of vaccines may impact on numbers of people successfully vaccinated by the end of the year.”
Mkhize also said they would relook and revise their set target of people to be vaccinated as more vaccines were announced and the vaccination was accelerated in April.