President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza are expected to visit the Eastern Cape on Monday, in order to conduct important oversight in Gqeberha.
According to a statement released by the Presidency on Sunday night, the pair are set to lead an oversight visit to the Aspen Pharmacare sterile manufacturing facility, and Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the area.
“Deputy President David Mabuza will undertake the visit in his capacity as Chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee on Covid-19 vaccines,” read the statement.
“The president and deputy president will be accompanied by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Councillor Mzwenqaba Bhanga.”
This comes as the country faces the possibility of a third wave of the Covid-19 coronavirus hitting the country.
The effects of the second wave are still being felt around the country, and Gqeberha [formerly Port Elizabeth] and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro which was the epicentre of the virus during the second wave, and where a new strain was first reported.
In a statement released on Sunday, Mkhize said the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases for South Africa was now 1 545 431.
“Today, 15 more Covid-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 0, Free State 3, Gauteng 6, KwaZulu-Natal 1, Limpopo 0, Mpumalanga 4, North West 0, Northern Cape 0 and Western Cape 1, which brings the total number of deaths to 52 663.
On the vaccine roll-out, which is currently in the first phase and is focused on inoculating healthcare workers, Mkhize said the number of health professionals vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol is 231 605.
Meanwhile, Aspen has invested more than R3 billion in the facility in Gqeberha, which will further provide lifesaving medicines for the domestic and export markets.
Ramaphosa and Mabuza will tour the internationally accredited facility which has the capacity to produce up to 300 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine per annum.
“The visit to the Aspen Pharmacare Covid-19 sterile manufacturing facility will focus on progress in vaccine production as part of the partnership between government and the private sector in the national vaccination programme,” the Presidency revealed.
“In November 2020 Aspen Pharmacare collaborated with Johnson & Johnson to establish the capacity required for the manufacturing of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at Aspen’s sterile facility in Gqeberha.”
“This new sterile manufacturing facility contains high-technology equipment and systems that will be used to manufacture state-of-the-art sterile drugs and vaccines. The facility packages these products into vials, ampoules and pre-filled syringes.”
After the visit to Aspen Pharmacare, the delegation is expected to pay a brief visit to the Coega SEZ.
As South Africa accelerates its Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, Coega SEZ is seen as an improvement catalyst for investment and local development.