Ramaphosa to address South Africa on Sunday evening

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 20h00 on Sunday (28 November) on developments in the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa’s address come after the meeting of the National Coronovirus Command Council was moved from Sunday to Saturday, fueling speculation that tighter lockdown restrictions would be imminent.

The meeting was moved forward due to the global panic over the new Omicron Covid variant which was sequenced in Southern Africa this week.

South African scientists and the Department of Health presented data on the variant on Thursday, cautioning that, while still in the early stages of sequencing, the variant could prove to be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines.

Despite stressing that there was not yet evidence to show this is the case – with weeks of research still needed to scope the full impact of the variant’s 30-plus mutations – many countries immediately imposed travel bans and suspended flights to and from South Africa and its neighbouring countries.

Health minister Joe Phaahla says the government has not made any decisions regarding tighter lockdown restrictions following the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant this week.

In a briefing on Sunday afternoon, the minister said that the government is not taking the matter lightly, and that it knows the impact that tighter restrictions can have on the country and the economy.

“We have not made any decisions on any restrictions; these are matters which are not taken very lightly because we know the impact,” Phaahla said. “These are matters which are dealt with through committees and consultations.”

“If there are to be any (restrictions), it will come after very thorough consultations with stakeholders,” he said. “As such, I can assure the nation that such decisions have not been made.”

Read: Warning over new lockdown restrictions for South Africa

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Ramaphosa to address South Africa on Sunday evening