Ramaphosa to hold weekend meeting on new Covid variant

President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Sunday (28 November) to assess developments in the Covid-19 pandemic, including scientific updates around the newly detected coronavirus variant.

The National Coronavirus Command Council is one of several structures of government – which include the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet – where scientific evidence and submissions by different economic and social sectors inform executive decision-making.

“Government works together closely with social partners to ensure that a balance is maintained between protecting and saving lives, and enabling people to earn a living and making it possible for the broader economy to recover and grow,” the presidency said in a statement.

“The outcomes of the NCCC discussions and further consultations will be communicated in the coming days.”

The government urged all South Africans to vaccinate and to remain disciplined in applying the known safety measures, to ensure a safe and joyful festive season with families and friends.

Lockdown restrictions

Speaking in a press conference on Thursday (25 November), Health minister Joe Phaahla said that the discovery of the new B.1.1.529 Covid variant is still ‘very fresh news’ and has caught the government by surprise.

Phaahla said that the government was only fully briefed on the new variant on Thursday morning and expects to receive further data over the weekend.

He added that meetings will be held with government officials, president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet, and the National Coronavirus Command Council in the coming days to discuss possible intervention measures and restrictions.

While Phaahla said that it was too early to predict what the exact line of action will be, he noted that the government has learnt a number of lessons over the past 21 months on what causes a Covid-19 wave to emerge and how to prevent the spread of a new variant.

He specifically noted an increase in travel out of Gauteng over the December holiday period as a possible cause of concern.

Read: ‘Premature’ travel bans leave South Africa in the lurch

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Ramaphosa to hold weekend meeting on new Covid variant