From the news desk

Gauteng leads new covid infections, hospital admissions dwindle in latest cycle

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With the national state of disaster expected to run its course in March, South Africa has recorded 2,489 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

This increase represents a 7.6% positivity rate.

Gauteng continues to drive South Africa’s daily infection numbers, accounting for 38% of the latest caseload.

Of the new cases, 942 were reported in Gauteng. No other province saw more than 500 new infections in the past 24 hours, with the Western Cape recording 418, KwaZulu-Natal 349 and Mpumalanga 233.

Hospital admissions have also dwindled to fewer than 4,200.

Nine more people have died because of the virus, bringing the national death toll to over 96,000.

Almost two years since lockdown regulations were introduced, government said it did not plan on extending the state of disaster when it expired on 15 March.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has again called on global leaders to waive intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines.

This follows a two-day visit to South African vaccine manufacturers.

The Belgian government was also represented.

WHO head Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus took a moment to thank both South Africa and India for their support in trying to make vaccines widely available.

The Biovac site in Pinelands is already producing childhood illness vaccines – up to 100 million doses per day.

Together with Afrigen it was hoped that by 2024 South Africans would be able to produce, manufacture and distribute homegrown COVID vaccines.

Ghebreyesus believed South Africa was well on its way to becoming a leader in the vaccination business.

“We’ve developed this hub which could be a strategic solution to the problems we’re facing,” he said.

Ghebreyesus said this process could be much faster if pharmaceutical giants allowed greater access to their vaccine formulas.

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