Acting health minister Mammoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says that she will meet with the government’s Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Saturday (26 June) to discuss further lockdown restrictions for South Africa.
In a media briefing on Friday morning, Kubayi-Ngubane said that the MAC has already submitted its recommendations, with the meeting set to focus on the concerns that it has raised and the interventions that need to be made at a national and provincial level.
Professor Koleka Mlisana, co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said that tighter restrictions are likely needed to help curb infections.
Mlisana told eNCA that government will look at the current restrictions that are in place and determine how the public is responding to them. It will also look at what other restrictions are needed to help turn things around.
The MAC co-chair said that the other big crisis is ensuring that there are enough hospital beds in Gauteng. This includes additional facilities, staffing members and beds to ensure the system is not overwhelmed, she said.
She said that government did not adequately prepare, despite warnings from the advisory committees. This is a failure by the provincial department of health as it did not prepare when it should have.
Health experts in Gauteng say that a move to level 5 lockdown will be too damaging for the province – but an increase in restrictions to somewhere between level 3 and level 4 may be necessary.
Dr Mary Kawonga, chair of the Premier’s Advisory Committee (PAC), said that the rapid increase in cases in recent days ‘is very worrying’ and that further lockdown levels may need to be necessary.
Kawonga said that there needs to be a balance between the economy and livelihoods and that a level 5 hard lockdown would likely be too harmful.
She said that it was also too late in the wave for a hard lockdown to have the necessary impact. Instead, she said Gauteng’s health experts have recommended a move to a hybrid between level 3 and level 4 lockdown.
This could include further restrictions on the sale of alcohol. While an outright ban is bad for the economy, she said that it may be possible to ban sales over the weekend. Alcohol sales are already restricted in the country over the weekend, with the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption only permitted between 10h00 – 18h00 from Monday to Thursday.
However, alcohol sales for on-site consumption are still allowed according to licence conditions, which includes sales over the weekend.
Ultimately, the decision to introduce more stringent measures lies with the national government, said Kawonga.