MEC for Health, Ms Nomagugu Simelane,
Government officials present,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We once again welcome you to this media briefing, which comes at a critical time, as we are shifting the Province’s vaccination programme into high gear.
Sadly we address this media briefing still reeling from shock, following the news of the cold-blooded murder of three women in Inanda by unknown gun assailants.
The reports we are receiving are that the three innocent women met their untimely death while they were participating in an internal party democratic activity, in preparation for the upcoming elections.
It is believed that while they were on the queue, an unknown gun assailant fired shots randomly, killing the three women while many others managed to escape the gun fire. We are deeply shocked, concerned and saddened by this brutal assassination of innocent citizens.
We believe this is the work of thuggish elements that kill with impunity. We must not allow them to find a place to hide in this province.
The killings bear the hallmarks of a desperate effort to use intimidation and violence as a way of frustrating the will of the people and subvert our democracy.
We call on the police to hunt down the criminal elements who thrive on such violence. There is no election or vote that is worth the blood of our innocent citizens. We call upon the community to unite and work with the police to expose those who seem to believe that winning an election or becoming a candidate must happen at all costs, even if it means jumping over the corpses of innocent people. We extended our heartfelt condolences to the affected families and the community.
44th anniversary of Steve Biko’s death
Today marks the 44th anniversary of the death of one of the greatest freedom fighters in history, a man widely regarded as “The father of Black Consciousness,” Cde Steve Bantubonke Biko.
After years of being harassed, persecuted, banned and arrested for his brilliant political activism and radical views, Biko was often subjected to grossly inhumane treatment at the hands of the Apartheid Government. On this day, 12 September 1977, he died while naked and tied up, on the stone floor of a police hospital.
Cde Biko’s courageous, yet painful life story is always a timely reminder of the heavy price that many men and women paid for our freedom – something that we should never, ever take for granted.
Moving on to today’s programme
In an effort to ensure that no one is left behind and that we reach as many people as possible to vaccinate, we commenced our programme today by launching the first pop-up vaccination site, with the UCCSA Church in Lamotville, under the leadership of Reverend Mkhize.
We are doing this briefing session here at SJ Smith or Wema Community Residential Unit (Hostel), where we are engaging the community to come and vaccinate. Through this partnership, we are collectively ensuring that vaccination programmes reach everyone – particularly the most vulnerable communities. We would like to thank the church and the leadership of the hostel and invite more people to come on board.
Unvaccinated people at higher risk with COVID-19
We commence our COVID-19 update today by stating that we have received strong confirmation from medical and scientific expert advice that the recent surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases reflects the high number of mostly unvaccinated people. COVID-19 is unfortunately deadly.
Everyone… knows someone who has died or been affected by COVID-19.
This is serious and is even affecting our economic recovery programme. The experts have also noted that the risk of an adverse outcome from the virus is minimal for persons who are inoculated. It is now abundantly clear that our passport out of this pandemic, which must take us back to normal life and the better functioning of the economy, will be determined by us taking the vaccine.
Intensified Siyagoma Wayawaya mass vaccination programme
On Friday, we officially launched Operation Siyagoma WayaWaya – Let No-one Be Left Behind, at King Cetshwayo District – a programme that was very well-received.
This mass vaccination programme that we have re-packaged and launched will see all members of the Provincial Cabinet venture into churches, community residential units (or hostels), shopping malls, and various other places in order to drum up support for the life-saving medical intervention that is vaccination.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached a turning point in our battle against COVID – 19.
It’s either we fold our hands, fall over and die – or we go all out and fight.
It is very re-assuring to see the positive manner in which the people of this Province are responding to our call to vaccinate. It gives us hope that, even though our numbers are not as high as we would like them to be, we will soon turn the corner.
Our message is very clear: we are now taking our lives back.
We want churches to open, and welcome through their doors large numbers of people, just like they used to, in the past.
We want our soccer, rugby, cricket, athletics and other large theatres of sporting excellence to re-open, and allow back into the fold, thousands of spectators.
We want to experience, once again, that electrifying atmosphere of screaming at the top of our lungs as we support and cheer on our sporting teams and heroes.
We want to attend indlamu, and musical concerns, so we can celebrate life and worship through song and dance.
We want to re-live all of those magical moments.
I cannot emphasise this enough: the only way we can get back to all of that is if we go out and get vaccinated in large numbers.
Update: COVID – 19 status quo
Our third wave as the Province of KwaZulu-Natal has been characterised by a fluctuation in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Thankfully, the curve so far appears to have been less severe this time around, when compared to the second wave.
It has also been driven by clusters in schools, meaning that a high number of learners and educators have been affected in eThekwini, Umgungundlovu, King Cetshwayo, Umkhanyakude and Ilembe districts.
A number of cluster cases have also been found at Correctional Centres, which affected both employees and inmates.
As of Friday, hospitals in KZN, in both the public and private sectors, had a total of 1 940 patients admitted for COVID - 19.
Between the 01st June – 10 September, the Province has lost 2 218 people to COVID-19. Ethekwini has the highest number of deaths, followed by Umgungundlovu, Amajuba and Uthukela.
Weekly COVID-19 trend analysis
Within the latest 24 hour reporting period, we have had 1 340 new infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 500 320. We currently have 59 274 active cases; and have sadly lost 14 030 people; and we pray that their souls must rest in peace. There have been 45 049 recoveries.
The number of daily hospital admissions continues to fluctuate in both private and public hospitals. Over the past week, 1 043 people were admitted in public and private hospitals.
As we have indicated before, there is a growing body of evidence that shows us that people who have been vaccinated tend to not suffer from severe illness or succumb to COVID – 19, as compared to those who have not been vaccinated.
The province has to date administered a total of 2,3million doses.
Vaccination update per target group
579 438 or 56%
337 307 or 26%
601 427 or 4%
128 864 or 5%
Concern at lower rate of vaccination/lots of room for improvement
We are currently vaccinating, on average, 30 000 people each day between Monday and Friday, and less than 10 000 over weekends.
What is even more concerning is the fact that people who fall under the vulnerable 60 plus age group are no longer registering or coming forward to get vaccinated.
In fact, we still have around 400 000 of these senior citizens – who are at higher risk of succumbing to COVID – 19 if they get infected - have not been vaccinated.
Even the 18-34 group, who are at far less risk of suffering COVID – 19 complications, are doing much better when compared to these senior citizens.
This shows, once again, the level of damage that has been caused by all the myths and misinformation around the safety of the vaccine.
We want to say to the people, “Come and get vaccinated.” We are making vaccination easy and accessible through the Siyagoma WayaWaya programme.
We once again wish to sound a clarion call to the people: Come forward and give your body the ability to fight possible COVID -19 infection. Let us end vaccine apathy and hesitancy.
Let not even a single one of our relatives, friends or colleague lose their lives because we failed to act by getting vaccinated.
Let us take responsibility for the sake of our families and loved ones. The vaccines are safe and all of us around this table have taken the vaccine. Our province has shed many tears through this vicious pandemic.
But that does not have to happen anymore.
You can now walk-in at any vaccination site or drive-thru facility, with your ID document, and get vaccinated.
We welcome our partnership with civil society – we will be expanding more vaccination sites with our partners in malls, churches, business premises, and elsewhere.
No-one must be left behind as we build a COVID-19 free KwaZulu-Natal.