A third wave of coronavirus cases sweeping South Africa is pushing frontline medical workers to the limit, with continuing unrest over economic inequality hampering access to essential supplies.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country have been overwhelmed by growing numbers of patients in recent weeks. Some hospitals are completely full, while stocks of oxygen are at critically-low levels. Almost two-thirds of recent cases have been registered in Gauteng province, home to South Africa’s administrative capital Pretoria and Johannesburg, the country’s largest city.
Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic more than 65,000 people in South Africa have died due to COVID-19, with more than 2.2 million cases recorded. But restrictions on movement to check the spread of coronavirus during the third wave are also complicating government efforts to address discontent over poverty and inequality. Protests sparked by the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption have since mushroomed into a wider expression of anger over dire economic prospects.
Health authorities are now racing to vaccinate millions of South Africans to help arrest coronavirus cases. But while the government is aiming to vaccinate about 300,000 people a day by the end of August, so far only 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered within South Africa’s roughly 60 million population.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the human impact of the latest wave of coronavirus cases in South Africa and what it will take for the country to get one step ahead of the Delta variant.
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