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South African President Urges Continued Vigilance Against Virus

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(Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Topline: As people begin to prepare for the festive season, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has once again taken to the podium to warn the country that until a vaccine is developed and distributed, citizens are to remain vigilant. With that being said, the President has yet again extended the National State of Disaster to January 15, 2021. 

Key Facts

  • Though it was clear that a second wave would be possible, Ramaphosa was adamant on Thursday evening that evidence of a resurgence of infections in parts of the country “could lead to great suffering and death” if not confronted. 
  • Since August, South Africa was able to keep the rate of new infections stable. However, on Wednesday evening, South Africa’s National Department of Health reported that the country recorded over 4000 new cases in a single day. 
  • Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, has been declared a Covid-19 hotspot. With this, the municipality will have strict restrictions put in places like a curfew and limited days to purchase alcohol. 
  • Also accounting for some of the new infections are the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route District in the Western Cape. 
  • “As I said during our last family meeting, at alert level 1, we have the measures we need to control the virus,” Ramaphosa said on a live broadcast. “But our main problem is that there are parts of the country where people are not complying with the current restrictions and the basic prevention measures are not being followed.” 

Key Reason Behind the Increase in Transmission in South Africa

  • Ramaphosa stated that one particular reason behind the rise is that many South Africans are traveling between provinces with high numbers of people, especially with the festive season approaching. 
  • Furthermore, social, cultural, and religious gatherings are being held in large numbers. These are more numbers than what is permitted under the Alert Level 1 restrictions. 
  • “What is concerning is that these are also often held in venues with poor ventilation. This is particularly the case for funerals, which are often followed by large so-called “after tears” parties,” the president said. 
  • However, the main problem is that people are not complying with the current restrictions and the basic prevention measures are not being followed, such as wearing a mask or social distancing. 

Crucial Quote 

“As much as we want to relax, the virus does not relax. It does not take a holiday. This has been a difficult year for us as a country. It has severely tested our resolve and demanded great sacrifices of each and every one of us. But even as the holidays approach, we cannot let our guard down,” Ramaphosa said.

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