President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce several lockdown measures on Sunday evening (27 June), as the country struggles with the third wave of Covid-19 infections.
Health experts on the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) have urged the government to take drastic measures to help ease pressure on the country’s hospitals, a minister who attended the meetings told The Sunday Times.
Some of the proposals being considered to include:
- A complete ban on gatherings;
- A complete ban on the sale of alcohol;
- Moving school holidays forwards;
- Telling people to work from home.
It has also been suggested by some health experts that additional restrictions be introduced for Gauteng, which is the current epicentre of the third wave.
“They just painted a picture to say, in a general way, you need to take drastic measures or else people are going to perish,” the minister said.
He said this put the cabinet in a difficult position as there are “competing interests” with businesses that would again be impacted by new restrictions.
“The effects of the first hard lockdown are being felt to this day. All industries were affected, but the hospitality sector was the worst affected. If you shut down the country it will just die.”
Delta variant to blame
In a media briefing on Saturday, acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane confirmed that the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 is likely behind the current surge in new cases in South Africa, with new data showing that the variant is rapidly becoming the dominant one in the country.
The minister reiterated that the country is in a third wave, with infections rapidly rising. Gauteng continues to be the epicentre of the wave, she said.
“We remain very worried about the rise in hospitalisation, which is putting a lot of pressure on the healthcare system – we expect this trend to continue in other provinces,” she said.
She noted that while initial modelling predicted that the peak of the third wave would be lower than that of the second wave, this was based on the assumption that the country would not suffer a new variant.
This has now been proven not to be the case, she said, with South Africa’s scientists acknowledging that the Delta variant – first discovered in India – is spreading in the country.
South Africa reported 17,958 new cases on Saturday, which represents a 25.6% positivity rate.
A further 157 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 59,778 to date. Gauteng accounts for the majority of new cases (11,303), followed by the Western Cape (1,854).