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South Africa reopens schools, borders as virus cases fall

Masked children line up at a school in South Africa   -  
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LUCA SOLA/AFP or licensors

South Africa

Schools in South Africa started reopening Monday for the beginning of the 2021 academic year, after a delay by weeks due to the second wave of the coronavirus. 

Masked Parents and students had to sanitize their hands and have their temperature checked before entering school premises. 

"I'm happy for him, even though I have concerns because we are in this pandemic. I have questions, like is he going to be safe... But I just have to trust the system that they will take care of our children", said Kelebogile Mgwenya, accompanying her child to school. 

Schools had been shut in South Africa since December and were expected to reopen late last month, but the opening was delayed by two weeks due to an uptick virus infections.

Mdududzi Gwala, a school principal in Alexandria near Johannesburg said the reopening of schools is good for children who cannot study from their homes. 

"Most of our parents here don't have cellphones, the technology, that you can use [for online teaching]. They're poor. So they don't get help at home. So it's upon us to make sure that we take over the things that are supposed to be done by parents, by educator assistants", Gwala said. 

New cases falling, land borders open

South Africa's basic education minsitry has said 1,169 teachers have been lost to the pandemic. 

South Africa has the highest confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa with nearly 1,5 million infections and almost 48,000 deaths. 

But authorities say the number of new infections been falling in recent weeks, with just 1,744 cases recorded on Sunday. On Monday, the country also reopened its land borders following a month of closure. 

South Africa is due to begin vaccinations - starting with frontline health workers and other vulnerable groups - with a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, days after scrapping the AstraZeneca jab which was found to falter against the variant of the coronavirus dominant in the country.

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