CAPE TOWN, June 12– South Africa’s Western Cape Province on Thursday announced that the Cape Town International Convention Center, a leading convention center in Africa, will be turned into the province’s first mass vaccination center over the next few weeks, as the coastal province is entering the third COVID-19 wave.
Shortly after Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced this on a digital press conference, governments of Western Cape and its capital city Cape Town jointly said in a statement that they aim to complete the project before the end of June, which is expected to enable a “radical increase” in vaccinations.
The convention center, which assumed the responsibility of Western Cape’s first major field hospital from June last year for several months and will be the first of at least three planned major vaccination centers in Cape Town, is envisaged to be able to vaccinate over 4,000 people a day at its peak, with up to 50 vaccination stations, according to the statement.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Western Cape had vaccinated nearly 230,000 people in total, including healthcare workers who were vaccinated on the first phase of the national vaccination program and residents over 60 years old who are eligible for the current stage of the second phase vaccination.
The percentage of residents over 60 years old who register for vaccine is expected to soon pass 50 percent, the province predicted on Wednesday.
The Western Cape’s vaccination campaign is expected to be boosted by 267 final-year nursing students who will administer the vaccine from June 17 after receiving training.
Winde on Thursday’s digital press conference also announced that with all the indicators including reproduction rate, number of increases, active cases and hospitalized patients, “Western Cape is now entering the third wave,” after the province has experienced resurgence for weeks.
Four of nine South African provinces had already entered a third wave, including Northern Cape, Free State, North West and most recently Gauteng.
Everyone in the province has to continue keep flattening the curve of COVID-19, adhering to health protocols, said Winde.
The province recorded a 31 percent increase in new cases from May 31 to June 7, comparing with the previous week, showing recent acceleration in increasing, head of Western Cape’s health department Keith Cloete said at the press conference.
It currently records over 430 cases per day and the active cases reaches to 5,802, he said.
“We officially announced that we are entering the third wave in the Western Cape, because of the acceleration over the last 10 days,” said the official. ■