JOHANNESBURG, July 2 (Reuters) – South Africa registered more than 24,000 COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest number of new infections since the pandemic began when a third wave of the virus spread to a population where only 5% of them were affected had been vaccinated.
The rise in cases in Africa’s most industrialized country has overwhelmed hospitals, especially in the capital Johannesburg, and overworked health workers are struggling to find enough beds for critically ill patients.
Bureaucratic failure has exacerbated the health crisis. The South African Medical Association threatened on Thursday with a lawsuit against the government because more than 200 new interns could not find a placement despite a desperate lack of staff. NL2N2OD2E3
South Africa has recorded just over 2 million cases and more than 60,000 deaths during the pandemic, according to government figures, while 3.3 million people were vaccinated out of a population of just under 60 million.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a series of measures last Sunday, including the suspension of alcohol sales and indoor dining in restaurants for two weeks to minimize the impact of the new wave, which scientists say will come first from the highly contagious variant of delta coronavirus is found in India and is now spread worldwide.
The country’s low vaccination rate is due to a combination of factors including bad luck – the government had to destroy 2 million contaminated Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccines – cumbersome South African bureaucracy and rich countries with ample vaccine supplies vaccinating their own citizens first while much of the developing world is waiting for cans.
Ramaphosa is very critical of what he calls the global “vaccine apartheid”.
He has called on drug manufacturers and allied Western governments to forego their patent protection in order to enable the local manufacture of vaccine doses in an emergency, so far without success.
(Removed redundant word ‘from’, paragraph six)
Reporting by Tim Cocks Editing by Bill Berkrot
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