President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced the introduction of Covid-19 “vaccine passport” in South Africa. This is amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the Africa’s most affected country.
The immunisation of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, Ramaphosa said in a televised address.
In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.
He added that the “sustained decline in infections over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.
Authorities will also extend the hours of alcohol sales, the president said, further relaxing restrictions introduced in June to combat a third wave of cases caused by the Delta variant.
The nightly curfew will start one hour later at 11 p.m. but still last until 4 in the morning.
Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.
On Sunday, South Africa reported 3,961 new cases, compared with a peak of about 26,500 per day in early July.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”
“If many people are not vaccinated, the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.
To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults having received at least one dose.
The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.