By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South Africa’s president said Tuesday that his country is determined to overcome the novel coronavirus by rolling out mass COVID-19 vaccination programs.
“In the coming weeks and months, we will begin a mass vaccination program that is expected to significantly reduce infections as it reaches more and more of our people,” Cyril Ramaphosa said in an address during the funeral of King Thulare Victor Thulare III of South Africa’s Bapedi kingdom, who died this month.
Ramaphosa said the government will use every means available to it to save lives and protect livelihoods.
“We must become even more diligent in observing the various health measures, avoiding closed spaces, crowded places and unnecessary contact with others,” he said in a eulogy for the late king.
At a separate occasion last week, Ramaphosa also promised that the government would deliver a mass COVID-19 vaccination program that will reach all 60 million South Africans.
He made the pledge while delivering the ruling African National Congress’s annual Jan. 8 statement which marked the 109th anniversary of the party’s formation.
Ramaphosa said the effects of the pandemic have placed many businesses under stress, including mines, resulting in job losses.
“We will also increase our efforts to rebuild our economy, restoring the jobs that have been lost and providing support to struggling households,” he pledged.
South Africa has the highest number of infections and deaths on the continent. The country has 1,346,936 confirmed cases and 37,449 deaths recorded countrywide.
Africa’s most developed economy is the 15th most affected country globally. Ramaphosa said the second wave of the pandemic that the country is currently experiencing is much worse than the initial outbreak.
“Many more people are becoming infected and more people are needing medical care. In many parts of the country, our hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed and our health care workers are under severe strain,” he said.