President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to reintroduce a number of lockdown restrictions as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases, the Sunday Times reports.
The reintroduction of restrictions comes after a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the cabinet, as well as a number of consultations with top scientific advisers.
Some of the restrictions which are set to be introduced include:
- The reintroduction of the night-time curfew;
- Stricter regulations on the sale of alcohol;
- Limiting movement between provinces;
- Enforcing a limited load in minibus taxis and other modes of public transport.
Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed to the paper that the president will address the nation on Sunday evening (12 July), but would not say what he is likely to announce.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday (10 July), that a worrying trend was that hospital causality rooms have been overloaded since alcohol restrictions were relaxed under lockdown level 3.
Research suggests that there has been a 200% increase in trauma patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), he said.
“People come in with stab wounds, gunshots, some of those involved in accidents. We found that a good percentage of them have a higher level of alcohol content in their system. It’s not theory, but facts for us,” said the minister.
“We have tabled this issue so that the NCCC (National Coronavirus Command Council) must consider because we think while we are going through this situation, it’s a matter that we must look at.”
No hard lockdown
Ramaphosa has reportedly shot down a move to a higher lockdown level or the reintroduction of ‘intermittent lockdowns’ in areas of the country which have seen the most coronavirus cases.
This aligns with comments he made last week where he indicated that the government is trying to strike a delicate balance between the loss of lives, and saving jobs.
“Another hard lockdown is not being considered for now, the issue of jobs lost concerns us. Other countries are experiencing even bigger losses. We are developing various other ways of responding to this,” said the president.
The exponential increase in Covid-19 cases ignited fierce debate across society with a hard lockdown proposed as a measure to curb the country’s rising infections.
President Ramaphosa said the government would rather consider other options in the “toolbox” in fighting the pandemic.
He said the increase in numbers was expected but the National Coronavirus Command Council will examine the situation in the hardest-hit provinces such as Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Western Cape.
As of Saturday (11 July), there are now 264,184 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa. This is an increase of 13,497 cases from the 250,687 cases reported on Friday.
Total casualties in the country now sit at 3,971 casualties, with 127,715 recoveries reported to date. A total of 2.1 million tests have been conducted to date.