Government to discuss ‘intermittent lockdown’ in Gauteng this weekend

Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says that government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will meet this weekend to discuss possible coronavirus interventions in the province.

Speaking in an interview with eNCA, Masuku said that the province will soon surpass 50,000 coronavirus cases and ‘will be on track’ for 60,000 cases by the close of the weekend.

He noted that the province’s mortality and hospitalisation rate was still relatively low compared to other countries, but cautioned that Gauteng’s healthcare system is facing increased strain.

“The decision to implement a lockdown (is a) decision that is taken by the National Coronavirus Command Council and we are waiting for its meeting this weekend.

“An intermittent lockdown is an option on how we are going to apply a lockdown and the NCCC can decide to take another decision on what we can implement.

“The whole matter will be on how we mitigate the risk, how we protect the (healthcare) system and how we protect our healthcare workers.

“I think, after the June period we have been through, we need to give our healthcare system a breather and also give our healthcare workers time to refresh and be able to prepare for the next spate of infections.

“An important aspect of imposing very stringent and restricted regulations is how they will help us reduce the rate of the spread.”

On Thursday (2 July), Gauteng premier David Makhura says that the ‘Covid-19 storm’ has arrived in the province which could necessitate the reintroduction of stricter lockdown rules.

While Makhura said that his provincial government will continue to push for ‘behavioural change’  at a ward-level, he noted that this will likely not be enough.

“We are also making presentations to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) at reinstating some of the harsher and more stringent (lockdown) measures.

“We think there may be a case for harder localized lockdown in areas where the infection rate is getting out of hand and people are not observing the measure being put in place.”

Specific issues which are set to be discussed include:

  • The sale of alcohol – including the hours when it may be sold;
  • The return of more school students, with an estimated 1 million expected to return as of 6 July;
  • The reopening of churches and other specific sectors.

Makhura said that consultations on theses issue will be held on Saturday, while the final decision will have to be made at the national level by the NCCC.

“A risk-adjusted strategy means that you look at the hotspots and make a case that a different approach may be needed (in these areas).

“Given what we are going through now, and the fact that things will get worse in July, we cannot just throw our hands in the air and say that there is nothing that we can do,” he said.

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Government to discuss ‘intermittent lockdown’ in Gauteng this weekend