Windhoek – A remorseless third wave of COVID-19 infections has seen the government of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe extend strict lockdown measures for at least another two weeks.
Encouragingly, all these countries also announced enhanced vaccinations programmes.
Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi this week said a global shortage of vaccines was making it difficult for African countries to citizens. This also meant people due for the second dose of two-jab vaccines were completing the inoculation process late, which may have an effect on efficacy.
Botswana closed schools July 16 as part of its lockdown measures.
Bracing the nation to prepare for tough times, President Masisi said, “The situation of the pandemic will worsen before it gets better. Therefore, we must take individual and collective responsibility to protect ourselves and the entire nation from COVID-19. We must brace ourselves for the imminent shortage of necessities, such as food and fuel, occasioned by disruptions of the supply chain in the region emanating from COVID-19 and its associated impact on the economy.”
He said the country could expect 50,000 Modena vaccines and at least 500,000 doses from Johnson & Johnson by December 2021.
In Namibia, President Hage Geingob announced an extension of current lockdown regulations to July 29.
Striking a rallying note, President Geingob said, “True character is revealed in times of crisis. I thank all Namibians, our healthcare and frontline workers, for their tireless, daily sacrifices which they selflessly render for the common good. Let us continue to wage this war, unrelentingly in the face of adversity, unflinchingly when confronted by fear. Let us fight for the ultimate gifts of human life and health…
“It has been said that great challenges present opportunity for growth. Anticipated disruptions to the supply chains of essential goods and services in the Republic of South Africa, may present an opportunity to bolster our domestic capacity. Accelerated efforts are underway to, among others, increase local oxygen generating capacity through an investment by the GIPF and to fast-track the manufacturing of coffins locally, through the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade and National Planning Commission. Such renewed investments should remain viable beyond this particular crisis, thereby creating new opportunities for our young people.”
Namibian Health Minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said the government had ramped up the vaccination campaign.
The country expects 250,000 doses of Sinopharm on July 17 bought from China, and 40,800 doses of AstraZeneca from the Covax Facility from next week.
Dr Shangula added, “Government has procured 333,333 doses of Johnson and Johnson from the Africa Union Platform. These doses will be delivered in a staggered fashion from August to December. Namibia will receive a donation of 168,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson from the United States of America via the COVAX Facility between July and September 2021.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the delta variant of COVID-19 continued to burden the health system.
“In the last two weeks over 4,200 South Africans have lost their lives to COVID-19… COVID-19 related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, and have surpassed those observed at the peak of the first wave. Consequently, Cabinet after consultation with the provinces has decided to maintain the country at Adjusted Alert Level 4 for another 14 days.”
The regulations will be reviewed on July 25.
South Africa’s government also announced it had approved Chinese vaccines for use in its nationwide inoculation campaign.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week extended Zimbabwe’s lockdown regulations for another two weeks, pending a review.
Zimbabwe is now vaccinating about 40,000 people daily in its internationally lauded programme, and President Mnangagwa said his government had set a target of one million people to be vaccinated during the two-week lockdown extension.
“The plan to maintain the current Level 4 will make it possible for the immediate acceleration of the vaccination programme throughout the country. The programme will now be taken to communities, making vaccination easily accessible to those seeking this essential service
“Whilst vaccination roll-out is key during this two-week lockdown extension and beyond, strengthened enforcement of all lockdown measures is going to play a very critical role. All lockdown measures will therefore be stringently enforced,” the Zimbabwean President said.