South Africa faces more lockdown restrictions as cases spike: report

Health experts have warned that South Africa could introduce further lockdown restrictions as the country officially enters into a third Covid-19 wave of infections.

Senior members of the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) told News24 that a move to an adjusted level 3 lockdown should be considered. Of particular concern is a shortage of hospital beds in some provinces, with Gauteng expected to reach maximum capacity within the next two weeks.

Among the restrictions which are being called for is:

  • A prohibition on unnecessary inter-provincial travel;
  • Possible interventions around schools and holidays; and
  • The stricter enforcement of restrictions for restaurants.

Adjusted level 3 lockdown

Calls for level 3 lockdown are not new, with the MAC making the recommendation to move to that level in May. A move to lockdown level 2 was ultimately announced, drawing some criticism from health experts that not enough was being done to combat rising numbers.

In early June, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) said that government should look at introducing further restrictions beyond level 2 to combat the rise in infections and growing fatigue.

The not-for-profit group, which represents the interests of medical doctors in South Africa, raised concerns that it is already difficult to secure hospital beds in parts of the country due to an increase in cases.

Among other measures, it is calling for:

  • A move to a stricter evening curfew, particularly over the weekends;
  • More restrictions on gatherings, particularly for in-door gatherings with poor ventilation;
  • Particular focus on taxis;
  • Stronger enforcement of mask-wearing, social distancing and quarantine protocols as lockdown fatigue sets in.

The last time South Africa was at lockdown level 3 was when the country faced a second coronavirus wave of cases over December 2020 and January 2021.

First announced on 28 December, the level 3 lockdown lasted for more than a month and included restrictions around:

  • A complete ban on the sale of alcohol;
  • An evening curfew between 21h00 – 05h00;
  • The closing of land borders with certain exceptions for business and emergency travel;
  • A ban on most gatherings;
  • The extended closure of schools.

South Africa officially entered into a third wave of Covid-19 infections after it reported 9,149 new cases on Thursday (10 June).

The country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the increase in cases has brought the national seven-day moving average incidence (5,959 cases) which exceeds the new wave threshold as defined by the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC).

The MAC defines the new wave seven-day moving average threshold as 30% of the peak incidence of the previous wave.

The country has now reported a total of 1,722,08 cases, with the 9,149 new cases representing a 15.7% positivity rate based on tests competed.

Read: South Africa officially enters third Covid-19 wave

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South Africa faces more lockdown restrictions as cases spike: report