President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a move to a stricter lockdown level as Covid-19 coronavirus cases continue to rise exponentially.
Lockdown Level 3 will come into effect from Tuesday evening “once regulations have been gazetted”.
The president’s address to the nation on Tuesday evening comes nearly a week after the country officially entered the third Covid-19 wave.
In the past week, 57 016 new Covid-19 cases have been recorded, as Gauteng continues to drive the third wave recording the highest number of new infections.
The country entered adjusted Level 2 lockdown at the end of May in an effort to keep the third wave at bay.
- A new wave is defined as 30% of the peak incidence of the previous wave. .
- The average number of daily new infections has doubled since the president last addressed the nation at the end of May. .
- Over the past seven days, South Africa recorded an average of 7 500 daily infections.
- Hospital admissions over the past 14 days are 59% higher than the preceding 14 days.
- The average number of people who have died from Covid-19 has increased by 48% – from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days.
Ramaphosa says that while he understands citizens’ concern about how stricter regulations restrict one’s freedom to gather, worship, travel and earn a living, failing to implement the necessary measures to curb the spread of the virus increases the risk of “losing control of the virus”.
“We also know that these restrictions have been effective in containing the virus,” he said.
South Africa has now been under various levels of lockdown for 15 months since it entered lockdown in March 2020.
“We still have a mountain to climb,” Ramaphosa stressed.
GAUTENG DRIVING THE THIRD WAVE
Gauteng is expected to exceed the numbers recorded during the second Covid-19 wave, with private hospitals in the province reporting that they are near capacity.
“Within a matter of days it is likely that the number of new cases in Gauteng will surpass the week of the second wave,” said Ramaphosa.
The president added that this calls for decisive action.
“We must act quickly to save lives.”
- Alcohol sales from retail outlets have been restricted to Monday to Thursday between 10am and 6pm.
- To observe the new curfew, on-site consumption is not allowed at licensed establishments after 9pm.
- Public places, including bars and restaurants, need to close by 9pm.
- Curfew has been amended and will be in place between 10pm and 4am.
- Gatherings have been limited to no more than 50 people inside and 100 outside with adequate social distancing measures.
- Funerals continue to be capped at two hours with no night vigils or post-funeral gatherings allowed.
Ramaphosa also spoke about the country’s the vaccination programme which has hit a number of obstacles. First, the AstraZeneca vaccine procured from the Serum Institute of India did not provide sufficient protection. Government then decided to procure the Johnson & Johnson vaccine of which production was halted because of an investigation into contamination of ingredients at a supplier factory in Baltimore in the United States.
“We are all aware that our vaccination programme has experienced several delays. The problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have now been resolved. As a result of these problems, 2 million doses that had already been produced are unusable. The Aspen plant in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape is now able to go ahead and produce new doses. The company has committed to significantly ramp up production and begin supplying the country within the next few days,” he said.
Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen has slammed the president, saying that the restrictions which have been announced are only necessary because of his administration’s failure to acquire and secure an adequate supply of vaccines.
“Had they acquired and administered vaccines timeously, lives and livelihoods would have been protected during the third wave. Instead, South Africans will suffer needless loss. Some people will pay for government’s failure with their lives. Others will lose their loved ones. Many will lose their livelihoods. Everyone’s lives will be disrupted.”
The DA has called for a comprehensive Parliamentary inquiry into government’s handling of the vaccine programme.
“From children losing out on schooling and school-feeding [programmes] and sporting activities to everyone losing out on precious time with friends and family. All at the hands of an uncaring, incompetent, corrupt government,” he said in a statement.
Read the full presidential statement below: