Stringent lockdown measures likely in South Africa as COVID-19 cases surge

SOUTH AFRICA – President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to meet with the National Coronavirus Command Council to discuss the government’s response to the third Covid-19 wave of infections and the possibility of introducing new restrictions.

A move to a stringent lockdown has been recommended by several quarters, including the South African Medical Association, the Gauteng Provincial Government, medical professionals, and now the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19.

Ramaphosa said earlier this week that indications are that government will have to increase the measures that it puts in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – particularly in Gauteng.

The president noted that the country’s first strict lockdown in March 2020, which has harder than other countries, did help bring down infections at the start of the pandemic.

Gauteng recorded 10,806 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest number of new daily cases ever in the province.

Daily Covid-19 infections rose to 17,493, the highest number recorded since the country first entered the third wave of infections, and the highest since 14 January.

The number of excess deaths, thought to be a more accurate representation of mortality from Covid-19 than official statistics in the week to 13 June was also the highest since the last week of January, according to a separate report released on Wednesday by the South African Medical Research Council.

Government failure

Professor Koleka Mlisana, co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, says that tighter restrictions are likely needed to help curb infections.

Mlisana told eNCA that government will look at the current restrictions that are in place and determine how the public is responding to them.

It will also look at what other restrictions are needed to help turn things around.

Mlisana said that the other big crisis is ensuring that there are enough hospital beds in Gauteng. This includes additional facilities, staffing members and beds to ensure the system is not overwhelmed, she said.

Mlisana said that government did not adequately prepare, despite warnings from the advisory committees. This is a failure by the provincial department of health as it did not prepare when it should have, she said.

South Africa is the most hard-hit country in Africa by the coronavirus pandemic.

The continent has so far reported 5,330,038 cases and 139,505 deaths out of the global figures which stand at 180,373,959 cases and 3,907,686 deaths.

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