Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo dies of COVID-19

South Africa is battling a severe third wave of coronavirus infections, spurred by the Delta variant.

Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo died of complications related to COVID-19 [File: Getty Images]

Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo has died of complications after contracting COVID-19, the provincial government has announced, as South Africa’s economic hub continues to be hit by a severe third wave of the pandemic.

“Makhubo passed on this morning, 9 July, after being in hospital for a while,” acting Mayor and Member of the Mayoral Committee, Councillor Eunice Mgcina said in a press release.

Makhubo tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to hospital last week after falling ill.

“We had hoped that the Executive Mayor would beat the virus and return to work and lead the city as we face this pandemic that has devastated lives and livelihoods. Sadly, it was not to be,” she added.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa extended his condolences to the Makhubo family, adding that the death of the mayor was “a stark reminder of the threat posed by this deadly pandemic against which we are all extremely vulnerable”.

South Africa, a country of almost 60 million, is increasingly in the grip of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The urban agglomeration around the capital Pretoria and Johannesburg is particularly hard hit, with almost two-thirds of the country’s new infections being registered there. The regional health infrastructure is at capacity.

With more than 2.1 million detected cases, South Africa accounts for 37 percent of the continent’s infections, followed far behind by Morocco and Tunisia with nine and eight percent respectively, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa’s government has faced criticism over the pace of its vaccine rollout, with some 6 percent of South Africa’s population receiving one or more doses of a coronavirus vaccine so far.

The government has said it would start vaccinating people under 50 in the coming weeks and aim to administer at least 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations a day by the end of August.

South Africa has recently approved the use of Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm, which joined the Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson jabs in the country’s rollout.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies