TOPLINE: It did feel like some form of “normalcy” would be on the horizon after overcoming the second wave in South Africa. However, with the new Delta variant of the coronavirus, South Africa will now move to adjusted lockdown alert Level 4 for the next 14 days. Calling this a “weighty matter”, and with grave seriousness, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday evening that the country is now seeing a “massive resurgence of infections”.
- The president said: “As much as we had hoped this pandemic would pass quickly, we know the reality to be vastly different. There may be uncertainty over the trajectory of the pandemic, but there is one thing that is certain.”
- It was further noted that the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the third wave of Covid-19 is underway on the continent. African Union member states have also reported over 5.2 million cases and over 138,000 deaths from Covid-19.
- This third wave, known as the Delta variant, was first detected in India at the end of March 2021. Currently, Delta can be found in 85 countries.
- The Delta variant has now been detected in five of the nine South African provinces, namely the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
- The epicentre of this current fierce wave is Gauteng, which now accounts for more than 60% of new cases in the country.
- Ramaphosa stated he was unsure of how long this wave would last as the first wave (July 2020) lasted 15 weeks and the second wave (January 2021) lasted nine weeks. “We don’t know how long this one will last, but indications are that it could last longer,” he said.
Crucial Changes in Restrictions
- All gatherings – whether indoors or outdoors – are prohibited. These include religious, political, cultural and social gatherings.
- A curfew will be in place from 9PM to 4AM, and all non-essential establishments will need to close by 8PM.
- The sale of alcohol, both for on-site and off-site consumption, is also prohibited. This is a change from alcohol being allowed to be sold between 10AM and 6PM from Monday to Thursday.
- Due to the rise of infections in Gauteng, which the president called “a burden”, travel in and out of the province for leisure purposes is prohibited. This does not include work, business or commercial travel, transit through airports or for the transport of goods.
- Restaurants and other eateries will only be permitted to sell food for take-away or delivery.
“The tried and tested public health measures that have been in place remain our best chance at fighting this pandemic. They are not complicated, difficult or expensive. Whatever inconvenience they may be to us, they are certainly better than becoming seriously ill and needing hospitalization… the situation has gotten worse,” the president said.