South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced that the country is re-enforcing stricter control measures as COVID-19 cases rise sharply, signaling that the virus is “taking over” the infected country.
Ramaphosa said in a televised address that the number of positive cases detected in South Africa in the last seven days was 31% higher than the previous week and 66% higher than it was two weeks ago. He noted that parts of the country, including Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, are now on the “third wave”.
“We still don’t know how bad this wave will be or how long it will last,” Ramaphosa said.
As of Monday, the president said the night curfew order would be extended by one hour, starting at 11pm and ending at 4am. A maximum of 100 people will be allowed in the indoor community meetings and no more than 250 people in the outdoor meeting. The number of people attending the funeral will be limited to 100, and post-funeral meetings will be strictly prohibited. Non-essential businesses should close at 10 p.m.
“We tend to be complacent,” Ramaphosa said, warning that the virus infection is on the rise again as winter approaches, when people are more likely to congregate indoors, which will increase the incidence of infections.
South Africa’s decision to return to a tight lock is a reminder that, like the crisis in India, the epidemic is far from over.
“We have seen the tragic consequences of the virus spreading uncontrollably in other countries,” Ramaphosa said. “We can’t reduce our security.”
South Africa has more than 1.6 million COVID-19 and more than 56,000 deaths, accounting for more than 30% of cases and 40% of deaths recorded by 54 countries on the continent, according to the Centers for African Diseases. Control and prevention. Ramaphosa said 4,515 new cases had been reported in South Africa in the last 24 hours, and that the “positive rate” in the tests performed was now “cause for concern”.
Ramaphosa announced that South Africa had the lowest level 1 out of its five levels, but now it will return to “tight level 2”. Authorities will not reconsider the drastic measures that were in place in some places last year, namely restricting the movement of people during the day and banning the sale of alcohol and tobacco products.
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There are two wave infections in South Africa: the first in the middle of last year and the worst second in December and January, with the appearance of a variant sending more infections and deaths than the first spike. The virus is currently following the “same path” as those waves, Ramaphosa said.
Experts warn that this wave, which comes with the Southern Hemisphere winter, will be even worse.
The increase in cases has also led to a greater focus on delays in vaccine use in South Africa. Only about 1.5% of the country’s 60 million people are vaccinated. Healthcare workers topped the list, but less than 500,000 of the 1.2 million health workers have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose injection. South Africa began vaccinating its senior citizens just two weeks ago. In all, 963,000 South Africans were vaccinated as of Sunday, however, half of them received only the first of two required doses of the Pfizer-Bioendech vaccine.
Ramaphosa said South Africa has “protected” more than 50 million vaccines, but currently there are only 1.3 million doses in the country that are ready for use. South Africa hopes to vaccinate about 40 million people by the end of this year, a goal that is increasingly impossible.