Cape Town plans to introduce COVID-19 “vaccine passes” to prevent widespread skepticism of the jab, ahead of a easing of movement restrictions this week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday.
After sluggish vaccine procurement and a delayed launch, the country of Africa, which has been hit hardest by covid-19, is now struggling with low uptake, especially among men.
In a television address to the nation, Ramaphosa stressed that an immunized adult population was the key to fully reopening the economy and avoiding a fourth wave of infection.
In two weeks, we will “provide further information on the” vaccine passport “approach, which can be used as evidence of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without giving further details.
But he added that “a sustained decline in infections … in recent weeks” would allow for a reduction in detention from Monday.
A curfew at night will be shortened from kl. 23.00 instead of kl. 22.00 and the limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings will be increased.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although face masks are still mandatory in public.
South Africa has passed the peak of a stubborn third wave of infection driven by the delta coronavirus variant, says Ramaphosa.
The average number of daily new infections has been 29% lower in the last seven days than in the previous week and 48% lower than the week before, he added.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that jab deliveries “were no longer a constraint.”
“If many are not vaccinated … the chance of new and more dangerous varieties emerging if they are much larger,” he warned.
More than seven million people in South Africa have been vaccinated completely so far, with more than a quarter of all adults receiving a dose.
The country aims to inoculate 40 million South Africans – about two-thirds of the population – in March next year.
Authorities have registered more than 2.8 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic, of which at least 84,877 have been fatal.
Researchers in the country have kept track of a new home-grown variety with an unusually high degree of mutation called C.1.2., Although its frequency is still low.