Ramaphosa says it might be time to review current lockdown level as Gauteng Covid-19 cases spike

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  • President Cyril Ramaphosa says it might be time to review the current lockdown level.
  • He announced a Level 3 lockdown for the country last week amid rising infections. 
  • Ramaphosa also said the national government would continue dealing with vaccines even though the Western Cape expressed intentions to try to get their own jabs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that he is "deeply worried" about the Covid-19 infection rate in Gauteng and says it might be necessary for the government's National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to review the lockdown level in the country.

Responding to questions during a visit to the Cape Town Port on Tuesday morning, Ramaphosa said:

We are in the third wave and the issue of moving down to another level will be discussed by the NCCC and they will make recommendations, and there seem to be indications that we have to increase the measures - particularly in Gauteng - that we put in place.

He said a balance needed to be struck between keeping the economy open at the expense of people's lives, and protecting livelihoods.

"The lives of people are extremely important as are their livelihoods," he said. 

Ramaphosa also admitted that infection rates in Gauteng were "much higher than we have seen before". But experts told News24 that it might be too late to put in place tighter restrictions because the infection rate is expected to peak in two weeks' time, before it goes down again.

READ | Covid-19: Too late to put in tighter restrictions on Gauteng - experts

Ramaphosa said Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who admitted that Covid-19 infections in the province were out of control, was "dealing with this challenge as best as he can", as was Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

He was grateful also for the deployment of military medical personnel in the province.

"I know they're opening up as many hospital beds as they can."

He also said ventilators were a challenge, but said this was the case in other parts of the world as well.

READ MORE | Gauteng needs to be in Level 5 lockdown, schools must close, says Netcare CEO 

Ramaphosa said the hard lockdown - which he admitted was "possibly harder than other nations" - at the start of the pandemic "did help bring down infections", which enabled South Africa to loosen the lockdown measures.

Gauteng has seen Covid-19 cases increase at a rate of 57 percent week on week.

The infection rate is already higher than it was at the peak of the previous two waves. Infections there account for 70 percent of the new cases reported in South Africa on Monday.

The president was also asked about the Western Cape government's intention to look at ways of acquiring vaccines for the province, but said that the world over, national governments were the "key players". 

Vaccine manufacturers also prefer this, he said, due to the issue of medical liability.

A week ago, Ramaphosa announced a relatively light lockdown Level 3 amid a steep rise in infections, which led to restriction in alcohol sales in shops.

It is not clear when the NCCC will meet again to reconsider measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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