President Cyril Ramaphosa used his annual State of the Nation Speech to call on South Africans to continue working together to deal with the Covid-19 health crisis.
“This is no ordinary year, and this is no ordinary State of the Nation Address. I will therefore focus this evening on the foremost, overriding priorities of 2021.
“First, we must defeat the coronavirus pandemic.
“Second, we must accelerate our economic recovery.
“Third, we must implement economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth.
“And finally, we must fight corruption and strengthen the state,” he said.
Securing more vaccines
During his speech, Ramaphosa announced that government has secured nine million jabs of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The first batch of 80,000 doses are set to arrive in South Africa next week. Half a million more will arrive within a month, he told parliament.
The country has also secured 12 million vaccine doses from the global COVAX facility. In addition, Pfizer has already committed 20 million vaccine doses to South Africa.
“We are continuing our engagements with all the vaccine manufactures to ensure that we secure enough sufficient qualities of vaccines that are suitable to our conditions. The health and safety of our people remains our paramount concern,” said Ramaphosa.
It has been almost a year since South Africa saw its first case of the novel coronavirus. Since then, nearly one and half million people have been infected by the virus and over 45,000 people have died.
“There is no family, no community, and no place of work that has not lost someone they knew, worked with, and loved. Driven by a new variant of the virus, this second wave was more severe and cost many more lives than the first wave,” he said.
[Speech] President Cyril Ramaphosa: 2021 State of the Nation Address
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Though Covid-19 has affected almost everyone in the country, the president said that the first phase of the vaccination programme will target the frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic. In the coming weeks, government will address the other important elements of its vaccination programme.
Fundamental to the nation’s recovery is an unrelenting and comprehensive response to overcome the coronavirus.
Pulling out the stops
The President said this year, the country must pull out all stops to contain and overcome the pandemic.
“This means intensifying our prevention efforts and strengthening our health system.
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“It also means that we must undertake a massive vaccination programme to save lives and dramatically and reduce infections across the population,” he said.
Ramaphosa also applauded the country wide lockdown for the role it has played in reducing the spread of the virus.
“The human cost could have been far greater, had we not moved quickly to restrict movement and activity, had we not prepared our health facilities, had South Africans not observed the basic health protocols, the devastation caused by this virus could have been far worse,” he said.
Overcoming the pandemic also meant addressing its socio-economic effects.
“It is not just this disease that we must defeat,” said Ramaphosa. “We must overcome poverty and hunger, joblessness and inequality. We must overcome a legacy of exclusion and dispossession that continues to impoverish our people, and which this pandemic has severely worsened.”
The president has also announced that the government will be extending the special Covid-19 grant of R350, which is offered to all adult unemployed South Africans by a further three months. —Health-e News with SAnews.gov.za