South Africa hits record 24,000 new COVID-19 cases in third wave

Paramedics attend to a patient during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as the country faces tighter restrictions at the MASA (South African Muslim Association) Medpark, in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 1, 2021. REUTERS / Sumaya Hisham

JOHANNESBURG, July 2 (Reuters) – South Africa on Friday recorded more than 24,000 cases of COVID-19, its highest number of new infections since the start of the pandemic, as a third wave of the virus spreads to through a population in which only 5% have been vaccinated.

The surge in the number of cases in Africa’s most industrialized country has overwhelmed hospitals, especially in the main city of Johannesburg, and left healthcare workers overworked to find enough beds for critically ill patients.

Bureaucratic failures worsened the health crisis. The South African Medical Association on Thursday threatened to sue the government because more than 200 new junior doctors cannot find placements despite a desperate staff shortage. NL2N2OD2E3

South Africa has recorded just over 2 million cases and over 60,000 deaths during the pandemic, government data shows, while 3.3 million people have been vaccinated out of a population of just under of 60 million.

Last Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a series of measures, including suspending alcohol sales and stopping indoor meals in restaurants, for two weeks to minimize the impact of the new wave, which , according to scientists, is first motivated by the highly contagious variant of the Delta coronavirus. found in India and now circulating widely around the world.

The country’s low vaccination rate is due to a combination of factors, including a lack of resources – the government had to destroy 2 million contaminated Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccines – the heavy South African bureaucracy and the rich countries with abundant reserves of vaccines inoculating their own citizens first while much of the developing world waits for doses.

Ramaphosa was very critical of what he called the global “vaccine apartheid”.

He called on drugmakers and allied Western governments to drop their patent protections to allow emergency local manufacture of vaccine doses, so far to no avail.

Reporting by Tim Cocks Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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