Africa & World

Ramaphosa tightens Covid-19 rules to prevent second wave

SOUTH Africa on Thursday tightened some Covid-19 rules in the Eastern Cape province where infections are rising the most, curbing movement and gatherings, but decided against reinstating a nationwide lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address that the curfew in the eastern Nelson Mandela Bay area would be changed to 2000 GMT to 0200 GMT, while indoor gatherings would be limited to 100 people and alcohol consumption in public is prohibited.

South Africa has recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections on the African continent, with more than 760 000 confirmed cases and more than 20 000 deaths.

The Eastern Cape province, where Nelson Mandela Bay is the largest municipality, has seen infections breach the 130,000 mark this week, and accounted for almost half of the country’s new cases in the week to December 3, according to the health ministry.

Active cases in The Western Cape increased week-on-week by more than 20%, according to the provincial government. The Garden Route in the interior of the province has seen a more than 100% increase in new Covid-19 cases.

“Cabinet has decided to declare Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality a coronavirus hotspot,” Ramaphosa said. “We will implement additional measures in areas identified as coronavirus hotspots.”

“We know that a second wave is possible but we know too that it can be prevented … We are in the fight of our lives,” said Ramaphosa.

Both the DA and IFP have welcomed government’s stance and decision not to move the country to a higher level of lockdown.

The DA’s John Steenhuisen said South Africans need to play their part in preventing the spread of infections.

He said significant behavioural changes are still the best weapon to combat not only the spread of infections, but also to prevent other medical trauma from clogging up our hospitals and ICU beds.

“Citizens need to play a bigger role in this behaviour change effort, but where they don’t we need increased law enforcement to step in and see to it that the laws and regulations are not abused.

“This behavioural change needs to also apply to social gatherings over this holiday season. We may remain on Level 1, which allows for substantial indoor gatherings of up to 250 people, but such a large gathering would be extremely irresponsible given everything we know now about the spread of this airborne virus.

“Numbers and close contact matter more than anything else, so this has to be a holiday season with a difference. People need to keep any social contact to a minimum, on a small scale, and outside where possible,” he said.

IFP national spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said the resurgence of infections in parts of the country, in particular Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, pose a great risk to efforts in containing the spread of Covid-19.

“Indeed, all efforts in bolstering our public health facilities, improving on tracking and tracing, and ensuring that our health facilities are ready to manage a surge in operations, are welcomed.

“In addition, we urge government to keep their finger on the pulse in terms of procuring vaccines for our country, and we commend all efforts by pharmaceutical companies in their swift development of vaccines and trial roll-outs,” Hlengwa said. – Reuters

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