Most often, journalists and the media at large find themselves under siege from politicians and other corners of society. However in a somewhat different twist, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has thanked the media fraternity, particularly for reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mkhize addressed a dialogue, together with the National Press Club and hosted by Government Communications (GCIS) on Thursday, 4 March 2021.

“The whole year has been a rather tumultuous year, with a lot of work that had to be done. I want to thank the media for all the work you have done in informing South African society about the issue of COVID-19,” Mkhize said.

The comments were made ahead of South Africa marking a year since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded. The patient was a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal who was part of a group which travelled to Italy – which was Europe’s epicentre at the start of the pandemic.

The minister further praised healthcare workers who have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and expressed condolences to the loved ones of those who sadly succumbed to the respiratory disease.

The COVID-19 vaccine ‘our only hope’ – Zweli Mkhize

Amid this however, lies a glimmer of hope in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine – particularly as the rollout continues. As of Thursday at 18:30, more than 92 000 healthcare workers had already been administered the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“I think there’s a bit of hope now when we start the process of vaccination and we really hope that one of these days, we will look back and say ‘we can now take control of our lives’ and have defeated the virus…,” Zweli Mkhize further said.

“But in the meantime, it’s important that we use the face masks, social distancing, handwashing, sanitising…all this needs to be done, right up until we are finished with the vaccination programme”

The country is currently on Phase 1 of the vaccination rollout, which aims to jab more than 1,2 million healthcare workers. Phase 2 will focus on essential workers, persons in congregate settings, persons over the age of 60 and persons with co-morbidities who are over the age of 18. While Phase 3 will target approximately 22 500 000 South Africans, and will be administered to persons older than 18 years of age.

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Presh JM Reporter

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