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An aerial view of people queuing for a drive-in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing site, as the latest Omicron variant emerges as a threat, at Hiram Bithorn Stadium's parking lot in San Juan, Puerto Rico December 23 2021. Picture: REUTERS/RICARDO ARDUENGO
An aerial view of people queuing for a drive-in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing site, as the latest Omicron variant emerges as a threat, at Hiram Bithorn Stadium's parking lot in San Juan, Puerto Rico December 23 2021. Picture: REUTERS/RICARDO ARDUENGO

The year started with the second wave of Covid-19 infections and will end in the fourth as the newly identified and more transmissbale Omicron variant has led to a surge in infections around the world. 

Amid millions of infections and prolonged lockdowns, SA also had two health ministers, began discussions to consider vaccine mandates and even the president could not make it to Christmas without avoiding the virus.

Here are some of BD’s top health stories of the year.

1. The government imposed strict new restrictions on December 28, 2020 in response to an intense surge in coronavirus infections.

2. Deputy president David Mabuza would be taking over “all responsibilities” for the next week. 

3. The shots the government has procured from the Serum Institute of India will be the first Covid-19 vaccines administered in the biggest immunisation drive in SA’s history. 

4. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in May that four cases of the new variant — which would later be named Delta — had been found in individuals with a recent travel history to India.

5. Zweli Mkhize’s soft-spoken successor will need to draw on all his well-honed skills to drive the government's ambitious agenda. 

6. The Covid-19 vaccination rate among Discovery’s SA employees rose from barely a fifth to 94% three months after it announced plans to make jabs compulsory.

7. SA objected to a sudden travel ban after announcing the discovery of the Omicron variant, describing it as unjustified, and that Britain did not engage with the country before introducing the flight ban.

8. Unvaccinated South Africans could face restrictions on being able to access public services and places of employment as soon as early 2022.

9. The use of ivermectin for preventing or treating Covid-19 is “risky and unethical” as there is insufficient evidence to show it is safe and effective, government advisers warned early in the year.

10. The government held a series of high-level meetings in late November to discuss how to respond to the detection of a swiftly spreading new coronavirus variant dubbed B.1.1.529, later to be known as Omicron.

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