Ministerial Advisory Committee chairperson Professor Koleka Mlisana says the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in South Africa means that restrictions around movement and travel are unlikely to be effective over the busy holiday season.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee is responsible for making Covid-19 related recommendations to president Cyril Ramaphosa and his government but does not make official decisions on the government’s lockdown interventions.
In an interview with radio station 702, Mlisana said that an increase in Omicron cases had been reported across almost all provinces, but the picture emerging is that these infections are less severe, which places less strain on the country’s hospitals.
“It really wouldn’t make any sense to restrict travel within the country because the variant is everywhere. What then becomes important is to look at the clinical picture. Any other restrictions would only be introduced when we see the health system overburdened. For now, it is a matter of watching closely.”
“If the early anecdotal analysis is anything to go by, we might just make it.”
Mlisana added that if the cases continue to be mild and the country’s hospitals are adequately prepared for an influx in cases, there might be no need for more burdensome interventions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is holding meetings this week to discuss the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in South Africa and possible government interventions.
The president acknowledged that while infections are rising in the country, the government needs to be cautious about how it handles any additional measures it puts in place.
He said that he would first receive a report from the health department and other bodies before making a decision. Any announcement relating to regulations would be preceded by a meeting of the presidential coordinating council, which includes provincial premiers and metro mayors.
On Wednesday (8 December), South Africa reported 19,842 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,071,064. Deaths have reached 90,038 (+36), while recoveries have climbed to 2,867,966, leaving the country with a balance of 113,060 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,781,642 (+142,349).