'The COVID-19 virus is still around': Phaahla reiterates importance of jabs

On Thursday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said they monitored the drop in coronavirus infection numbers for more than three weeks and realised the pandemic's fifth wave was driven by the Omicron sub-variants and not a new variant of concern.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla at a briefing on 28 April 2022 Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Health has reiterated the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations in efforts to keep the spread of the virus low.

On Thursday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said they monitored the drop in coronavirus infection numbers for more than three weeks and realised the pandemic's fifth wave was driven by the Omicron sub-variants and not a new variant of concern.

Phaahla said their decision to repeal the last remaining COVID-19 safety protocols has received full support, including from the presidential coordinating council as well Cabinet.

A decline in the severity of the Omicron infection surge has prompted leaders to reassess the need for COVID-19 safety measures.

Phaahla has, however, emphasised the value in vaccination: “The COVID-19 virus is still around, it is not gone.”

He has urged more people to come forward for their coronavirus jabs: “Going forward, the vaccination programme will remain and is now being integrated into the normal health services as part of our primary health services.”

Just over 65% of people aged 60 years and older have so far received a COVID-19 vaccination.

WATCH: Health Minister: If a facility wants you to wear masks, it's up to them