In a bid to help curb the spread of coronavirus infection rates, South Africa’s mining companies, otherwise known as the Minerals Council have announced that they will support the government in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines as the country battles a spike in infections.
The mining companies say they are well-positioned to support the COVID-19 response due to decades of experience combatting tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS among workers, including the creation of on-site treatment facilities.
Also, The Minerals Council said its members are developing plans to use the sector’s healthcare infrastructure and delivery capability to accelerate the vaccination programme.
The government has called on the private sector, including miners, to assist with the rollout of vaccines but has not yet outlined exactly how it should assist.
According to the Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter, he said: “While Government is primarily responsible for funding the vaccine rollout and is the single buyer, the industry can play a material role in accelerating the vaccination programme on mines and in mining communities.”
Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater disclosed that it could carry out 18,000 vaccinations a day using its 45 health and medical facilities. “We could probably vaccinate our entire workforce of around 80,000 people in about a week,” said Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted, while adding that talks were ongoing about extending vaccinations to the community.
Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured as the country battles infections which reached a peak of more than 21,000 a day, taking total cases to nearly 1.3 million, which is the most on the African continent.
With over 230 COVID-19 deaths in the mining industry, unions have called on mining firms to help pay for vaccines. “They have been making huge profits, and now it’s time for them to buy vaccines for their employees,” said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu.
In a revealing budget for the vaccines, South Africa’s government has said it might meet 70% of its vaccine needs with AstraZeneca’s shot, which is the cheapest at an estimated 54 Rand ($3.56) per dose. At that price, vaccinating all the country’s more than 470,000 mineworkers with the two-dose regimen from AstraZeneca will cost around 50.9 million rands ($3.36 million).
12 Die of COVID-19 Complications in Nigeria
Twelve people died of complications related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in Nigeria, the country’s health agency has said.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) 571 new cases of COVID-19 were also recorded, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 153, 187.
The country’s daily COVID-19 infection rate has dropped below 1,000 for the seventh consecutive days.
It also recorded 12 COVID-19 related deaths, raising the total fatality in the country to 1,874.
The agency noted that the new infections were reported in 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The Nigeria’s public health agency stated that Lagos state reported 170 cases, Ogun, FCT and Kwara reported 65, 45 and 34 cases respectively, Abia 32 cases, Enugu 32, Kano 25, Oyo 22 and Ondo 21.
Rivers and Kaduna reported 19 cases each, Benue 18, Bayelsa and Kebbi 12 cases each, Nasarawa 11, Akwa Ibom 9, Delta 8, Ekiti 6, Niger 5, Bauchi and Imo 3 cases each.
The NCDC said that 643 infected people recovered, adding that total recuperated and discharge stands at 129,943 now.
The health agency stated that the discharged include 214 community recoveries in Lagos State, 61 in FCT and 11 in Benue.
It said the number of active cases, had continue to dropped drastically.
The current active cases stood at 21,279 down from 21,567 in the past 24 hours in the country.
The country recorded a slight reduction in the number of infections, recoveries and deaths last week.
From Feb. 14 to Feb. 20, 5,849 new cases were reported in the country, the lowest in seven weeks.
The last time the country reported such a low figure was in the Dec. 27, 2020 to Jan. 2 with 5,681 cases.
Ghana Receives COVID-19 Vaccines
The West African nation of Ghana on Wednesday became the first country to receive COVID-19 vaccines from the humanitarian vaccine distribution mechanism Covax.
The arrival represents the start of a massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign encompassing 20 African countries.
“This is a momentous occasion, as the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines into Ghana is critical in bringing the pandemic to an end,’’ World Health Organisation (WHO) Ghana representative Francis Kasolo and UNICEF Ghana representative Anne-Claire Dufay said in a joint statement.
The 600,000 Covax-sponsored vaccines are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine coming from the Serum Institute of India, according to the statement.
The Covax initiative aims to deliver almost 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021.
“The shipments also represent the beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history,’’ Kasolo and Dufay said.
“As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will be able to gradually see a return to normalcy,’’ the two representatives added.
Ghana is planning to begin its vaccination campaign on March 2, said information minister designate Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.
Health workers, people older than 60 years, people with underlying health conditions as well as essential workers and teachers will be first to be immunised, according to Nkrumah.
So far, less than two dozen African countries have started COVID-19 vaccination, according to the WHO.
Africa has recorded more than 3.8 million COVID-19 cases, 3.5 per cent of all reported cases worldwide, and more than 102,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control.
Turkey Repatriates 3 Turks Infected with Coronavirus from Tanzania
The Turkish government has airlifted three of its citizen from Tanzania after they were infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the East African country.
Turkey’s Ministry of Health said the citizens, identified as Halil A., Eyyüp K. and Oğuzhan A., were taken to Istanbul by an air ambulance where they will be treated.
The had applied to Turkish authorities for treatment in Turkey earlier.
Turkey, which offers free-of-charge air ambulance services for its citizens, occasionally brings COVID-19 patients from pandemic hot spots around the world for treatment.
Tanzania had stopped giving updates on the virus since April after President John Magufuli had declared the country coronavirus-free.
The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; the United States; and the local Catholic church had previously called on Tanzania to acknowledge COVID-19 for the good of its citizens, neighbouring countries, and the world, especially after a number of countries reported that visitors arriving from Tanzania tested positive for the virus.
However, on Sunday, Magufuli acknowledge there is “a coronavirus problem” in his country after the virus had claimed the lives of several high-profile figures, including vice president of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar region and the president’s chief secretary.
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