Ramaphosa sends Covid-19 warning to South Africa as festive season approaches

 ·9 Nov 2020

As the festive season approaches, it is critical that ‘we do not become the architects of our own undoing’, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Writing in his weekly letter to the public on Monday (9 November), the president said that ‘the greatest vigilance’ is required from all citizens to keep the virus at bay.

“A resurgence at any scale will not just dramatically reverse our health gains. It will choke the green shoots of economic recovery that have emerged, and take us back from spring to winter,” he said.

“To prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections, we must observe the public health guidelines that remain in place.

“When we fail to wear a mask at a social gathering, when we attend crowded events, we are not only putting ourselves and others at risk. We are also putting our economic recovery in jeopardy.”

Ramaphosa pointed to the sacrifices made during the initial outbreak to contain the spread of the virus.

“Even as most social and economic activity has resumed, we must still observe all the health measures. This is absolutely necessary if we are to rebuild our economy and put this crisis behind us.”

While most of the past year has been focused on supporting South Africans through the pandemic through a variety of grants and concessions, Ramaphosa said that the government is focusing on a transition from relief to recovery.

He added that the emergency measures put in place have laid a firm foundation on which to rebuild the economy.

“As our focus now shifts to the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, our priority will be to stimulate growth and create jobs.” The president said that progress has already been made in a number of areas.

“We are seeing new funding commitments for infrastructure development following an infrastructure project roundtable last week.

“A number of employment programmes under the Presidential Employment Stimulus have started. We are pushing ahead with economic reforms in areas such as energy and telecommunications.

“Plans are being converted to action and commitments are being reflected in jobs and opportunities,” he said.

Briefing this week 

The president will brief the nation this week on the country’s strategy around the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said last week that the briefing will be based on a cabinet meeting and suggestions provided by the National Coronavirus Command Council.

Mthembu said that Cabinet is concerned that South Africans have grown increasingly indifferent in their response to the pandemic and are no longer following lockdown regulations.

“Cabinet is concerned that some people are behaving recklessly and irresponsibly as if Covid-19 no longer exists,” he said.

“Cabinet calls on all people in South Africa to continue adhering to the health protocols of practising social distancing, wearing masks in public and washing our hands with water and soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser, and avoid large gatherings.”

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that all provinces remain on high alert for a possible Covid-19 resurgence.

He said last week that the country has successfully curbed its ‘plateau’ of Covid-19 cases, but warned that there are indications of ‘cluster outbreaks’ and a slight increase cases in certain hotspot areas.

“The concerns that we have to take into account is pandemic fatigue in the population, resulting in low adherence to public health measures,” Dr Mkhize said.

The health minister also warned of exhaustion and fatigue among the country’s frontline health workers. “A possible resurgence could be made worse by the two factors above,” he said. “A delay in obtaining an effective (Covid-19) vaccine also keeps us vulnerable.”

South Africa reported 1,372 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday (8 November), taking the total reported cases to 737,278.

Deaths have reached 19,809, a daily increase of 20, while recoveries climbed to 679,688, leaving the country with a balance of 37,781 active cases.

Read: South Africa’s recovery plan lacks funding details: Mbeki

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