Extension is welcomed; vaccine roll-out must be fast-tracked - SAMA
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) welcomes the extension of the Level 3 lockdown restrictions announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night (11 Jan) but says concerns remain about certain of its provisions.
“We noted last week that returning to Level 5 would be counter-productive, and that more focus on the current restrictions is a better way forward. The tightening of the curfew hours and the closing of borders (which are undoubtedly hotspot areas) are both good moves but the large number of people still allowed at funerals – which are super spreader events – remains a concern. We would have preferred this to be reduced to a maximum of 20 people,” says Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chairperson of SAMA.
Dr Coetzee says the well-being of all healthcare workers must remain a priority for the government and that the planned roll-out of 1.5 million vaccines to these frontline workers is to be applauded as a bold step to begin dealing effectively with the pandemic.
“The acquisition of these vaccines will provide a much needed barrier to those frontline workers who risk their lives caring for others. The strategy to deploy the initial vaccines to healthcare workers is necessary as it will protect those whose job it is to protect others. It’s critical now that more vaccines are secured as quickly as possible so all South Africans are equally covered,” says Dr Coetzee.
In his address President Ramaphosa noted that the government is busy in negotiations to secure a further 20 million vaccine doses and that details of these negotiations would be made public once they have concluded.
Dr Coetzee says finalising the negotiations and making the details of the deals public is an important next step.
“For healthcare workers who are struggling to cope with exhaustion and an unrelenting tide of new patients daily this is certainly good news. We eagerly await finalisation of this – and other negotiations – on vaccine procurements as vaccinations are a critical and necessary step towards overcoming COVID-19. We cannot stress enough the importance of speed in this process,” says Dr Coetzee.
SAMA says it will continue working with the government and other role players nationally and in the provinces to ensure an effective roll-out of the vaccine, particularly to private sector healthcare workers.
Notes to Editors
The South African Medical Association was formally constituted on 21 May 1998 as a unification of a variety of doctors’ groups that had represented a diversity of interests. SAMA is a non-statutory, professional association for public, and private sector medical practitioners. SAMA is a voluntary membership association, existing to serve the best interests and needs of its members in any and all healthcare related matters.
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Dr Simonia Magardie
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Dr A Coetzee
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Dr M Mzukwa
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