South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday pleaded with wealthy countries with excess or hoards of COVID-19 vaccines to release them for other poorer countries, reported News 24.
While addressing a virtual World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering on Tuesday, Ramaphosa complained that some of the rich countries acquired far more vaccines than needed and were holding onto the access doses.
He appealed to the countries that have hoarded vaccines, to release them for other nations, including those in Africa.
“We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and other countries are not vaccinating,” the South African president said. “We all must act together in combating the coronavirus.”
The country reported 680 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, pushing the total toll to 41,797, the highest on the continent, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced.
Mkhize said 6,041 new COVID-19 infections were detected in a 24-hour period, taking the number of confirmed cases to 1,423,578.
The South African health minister said the highest number of fatalities was recorded in the coastal province of Kwa-Zulu Natal at 306 followed by Gauteng province that reported 141 deaths. 95 people succumbed to the virus in the Western Cape Province, the country’s tourism hub. The remaining six provinces had just over 100 deaths in total.
South Africa is currently battling a second wave of the pandemic. The country is the 15th most-affected country globally and has the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths on the continent.
Last month, the country reported a new COVID-19 variant known as 501Y.V2, which is said to be 50% more infectious and has spread to at least 20 countries.
Despite having a new variant, the number of COVID-19 cases has started dropping in the country, where at least 1.25 million patients have recovered from the deadly respiratory illness, representing a recovery rate of 88%.
South Africa has so far conducted over 8 million COVID-19 tests since March, with 39,529 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.