- Health Minister Joe Phaahla has called on South Africans to follow Covid-19 safety protocols.
- This comes as the country remains on adjusted Level 1 restrictions.
- The Omicron variant, which is driving the fourth wave, appears to be spreading faster than previous waves.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla has called for compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols as the country remains on adjusted Level 1 restrictions.
According to Phaahla, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will retain lockdown restrictions at Adjusted Level 1 but has tasked the Department of Health with monitoring rising infection numbers.
"The NCCC has reflected on the current Covid-19 situation and deliberated on a number of recommendations tabled by the Department of Health as part of safety measures to prevent a possible surge in Covid-19 infections during the festive period, which is associated with all sorts of social gatherings like parties and weddings, which can be 'super spreader' events," Phaahla said in a statement.
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"The council has directed the department to closely monitor the rising Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations, mortality and recovery rates, which are largely driven by the Omicron variant," he said.
The new variant was driving the fourth wave, said Phaahla, and according to scientific studies, the virus was spreading faster than in previous waves. The rates of hospitalisations and deaths remain relatively low, he added.
"We call upon all travellers, especially those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated coming from areas declared hotspots, to get vaccinated before hitting the roads to protect their families and friends they will be visiting during this period," said Phaahla.
He said the department will continue to closely monitor daily infections, hospitalisations, as well as mortality and recovery rates, and make necessary recommendations to the NCCC.
"The department, working with provinces, will ensure sufficient vaccination sites remain operational, including pop-up sites at some public places like malls, open community sporting-based venues and roadblocks. We also urge public transport operators to enforce compliance with mask-wearing at all times, hand sanitising and open windows to allow sufficient ventilation," said Phaahla.
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