Covid-19: Tighter lockdown regulations for NMB could mean a more relaxed Christmas - acting mayor

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  • The acting Nelson Mandela Bay metro mayor says residents must work with law enforcement authorities so that they are not policed. 
  • The mayor says the tightening of regulations, especially the curfew, is necessary because taverns are becoming a problem. 
  • He has welcomed the tightening of lockdown restrictions, saying they will help flatten the Covid-19 surge in the metro by Christmas.

Acting Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Tshonono Buyeye believes President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to tighten some lockdown restrictions in the region will help flatten the Covid-19 curve and lead to more relaxed conditions come Christmas.

Buyeye was addressing the media outside the City Hall in Port Elizabeth on Friday, following Ramaphosa's announcement on the restrictions on Thursday night.

The president declared Nelson Mandela Bay a coronavirus hotspot and said the decision to do so was made after a recommendation from the National Coronavirus Command Council in consultation with premiers, metro mayors and traditional leaders.

READ | Muted opposition reaction to latest Covid-19 restrictions in Nelson Mandela Bay metro

While Alert Level 1 restrictions are in place countrywide, additional restrictions were implemented in the metro from midnight. The restrictions include a 22:00 to 04:00 curfew, and the reduction of trading hours for alcohol outlets from 10:00 to 18:00 from Mondays to Thursdays. 

Buyeye said the metro had made a submission to the province on the issue of alcohol sales and said that tighter restrictions would make matters easier for officials to contain the spread of the virus and lead to fewer liquor-related cases in hospitals.

He added:

"We believe that the measures taken will make sure that we deal with the surge in a short space of time and within no time, we should see numbers decreasing. And we believe that by the time Christmas comes, some of the regulations maybe have been relaxed already. We are quite confident that the right call has been made and we welcome the president's pronouncement."

Up to residents

The acting mayor, who was preparing for a council meeting where a new mayor was due to be elected, added that it was up to residents to ensure they adhered to regulations, making the job of law enforcement officials easy.

He said it was important that residents worked together with law enforcement officials so that no one would be "policed". KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage and Motherwell were some of the hotspots identified in the metro.

As of Thursday, there were 1 719 new cases and 42 deaths in the province. Four of the deaths occurred in the past 48 hours. The total number of cases in the province is 132 149 and there have been 4 720  deaths.

The provincial health department said that in the last 24 hours:

  • 49.6% of the new cases were from Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman,
  • 39.2%of cases were  from Buffalo City, Chris Hani and Amathole; and
  • 10.5% were from Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo. 

Of the 8 218 active cases:

  • 63.2% were from Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman;
  • 29.0% were from Buffalo City, Chris Hani and Amathole; and
  • 6.9% were from OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo.

Increase in deaths

The department noted that there was an increase in the number of deaths during the surge.

In its daily epidemiological report on Thursday, the department said 62% of cumulative admissions ended in discharge and that 25.6% of those who were hospitalised, died as a result of Covid-19.

"The public sector accounts for 61.8% (976) of current admissions," the department added.

Provincial health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana told News24 that in addition to the fight to curb the Covid-19 surge, the province also had ward-based rapid response teams that comprise doctors, nurses, health promoters and counsellors to spread awareness in communities and hotspots. 

Manana said the province has also decentralised oxygen tanks to district hospitals where they can also be accessed by clinics for refills. 

"We have over 85% of PPE (personal protective equipment) in all our institutions. We are still trying our best to make sure that our people do not contract Covid-19. We are saying we need to engage [hotspot areas] intensively. We have about six of those rapid testing trucks deployed in the metro (Nelson Mandela Bay), because we believe that if we can stem that spike in the metro, we will be able to contain it. Otherwise, it will spread throughout South Africa," he said.

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