President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa

COVID-19 second wave hits South Africa amid alleged irregularities in stimulus spending

*South African Health Minister warns of higher peak than in first wave as the government highlights rise in cases in two provinces ‘exponential’

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The South African Government declared a second wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections as the number of virus cases surged.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who disclosed this development in a statement Wednesday, December 9, 2020, said the wave is being driven by the provinces of Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the economic hub of Gauteng, says agency report.

Mkhize stated that a seven-day moving average graph shows that the increases in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are exponential.

He noted “this means that we should expect faster rising numbers with a higher peak than in the first wave.”

Report said South Africa registered a record 6,709 infections Wednesday, bringing the total number to 828,598, with 22,574 deaths.

The government, however, expects to take its first delivery of Coronavirus vaccines by the middle of next year.

The latest surge in cases comes as millions of people prepare to travel to their home towns and holiday destinations during the festive season.

With the onset of the second wave, the Health Ministry has advised provincial-government leaders to ensure testing turnaround times are as fast as possible, assess bed capacity and urgently attend to staffing and equipment needs.

In a related development, South Africa’s Chief Accountant has raised fresh concerns over irregularities and poor control in the disbursement of the government’s 500 billion-rand ($33.5 billion) Coronavirus relief package.

It was gathered the irregularities were found across departments in disbursing of relief funds and the procurement of personal protective equipment, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke said in her first report since succeeding the late Kimi Makwetu.

Some of the beneficiaries of state contracts were government employees, and some companies were paid in full despite delivering inferior and over-priced equipment, Maluleke said in the office’s second report on the financial management of the state’s COVID-19 initiatives.

Maluleke reported that 95.8 billion rand of the 148 billion rand of expenditure her office is auditing had been spent by the end of September 2020.

Report further stated that corruption allegations linked to COVID-19 procurement first emerged in July, when newspaper reports linked the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman to a 125 million-rand contract to supply the health department of Gauteng province with equipment.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s specialised crime unit has since started investigating potential impropriety in the awarding of 658 government contracts worth more than 5 billion Rand.

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