SA will move to lockdown level 2 from Monday. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday already confirmed that tighter restrictions were on the cards as SA enters its third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said there have been a sustained average 3,745 daily new infections — a 67% increase on the previous week.
“Infections are just going up and we must do everything in our power to mitigate this. We once again have to remind South Africans to be vigilant and protect themselves and each other.”
The ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 has recommended the country urgently implements further restrictions, based on increased hospitalizations and positive tests.
“Cabinet has therefore decided that we should be placed on alert level two from tomorrow.”
Ramaphosa also expressed concern about the rising number of infections in the Northern Cape, saying the province has shown the highest infections per capita in the country at nearly 34 per 100, followed by the Free State with nearly 15 per 100 infections.
As the country enters its third week of the government’s phase 2 vaccination programme, targeting those over the age of 60, there were fears that tighter restrictions may lead to further job losses, curfews and the banning of alcohol.
The third wave of Covid-19 has taken hold and could be significantly worse than the second, experts told a local publication.
“I’m concerned we are sitting on a potential third wave which is 25% higher than the second wave,” said Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee member professor Ian Sanne, an infectious diseases specialist who heads Right to Care, a health organization at the Covid frontline.
Wits University infectious diseases specialist professor Francois Venter said: “I think it is clear we are in the midst of a third wave, with huge differences by provinces. We need to accelerate vaccinations hugely.”
This was echoed by Dr Gesine Rath-Meyer from the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium, who said: “We need to get vaccinating faster to possibly see an impact on the third wave.”
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research senior researcher Ridhwaan Suliman said all indicators show sustained increases in infections. “That’s likely to continue now for the next few weeks at least,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa also lambasted those who misappropriated Covid-19 funds for their own benefit.
“There are some unscrupulous and inhumane individuals who used Covid-19 to steal from the people, law enforcement will continue to deal with these.”
He admitted that the speed at which the vaccination rollout was unfolding was slow.
“Let us urge the elderly to register and upon receipt of their SMSs to go and get their vaccinations. There have been great stories of how those who have been eligible have been treated quickly but there have also been stories where people have waited for far too long.”
To this he said, “We are going to get rid of all these wrinkles and make sure that there is quick service as we increase the vaccination process.”
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