Some nationwide lockdown restrictions in South Africa could be back sooner than expected: analysts

 ·14 Dec 2020

South Africa’s rapid increase in coronavirus cases and the appearance of a second wave means that the country could see national lockdown restrictions be reintroduced sooner than expected, says Stellenbosch’s Bureau for Economic Research (BER).

In a research note on Monday (14 December), the BER said that, given the surge in cases and declaration of an official second wave of Covid-19 in the country, the likelihood of an earlier re-imposition of some nationwide lockdown measures has now increased.

“While we were worried about the possibility of a second wave leading to stricter restrictions sometime in autumn 2021, the likelihood of an earlier re-imposition of some nationwide lockdown measures has now increased,” it said.

“Hopefully, a stricter adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions can quell the recent uptick in cases, as a return to stricter restrictions on mobility and economic activity (on a national level) would be a significant setback to the economic recovery that started in 2020 Q3.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 20h00 on Monday evening, with reports from the executive indicating that localised restrictions are likely to be introduced.

The address follows meetings with the National Coronavirus Command Council and provincial governments as the country battles with the impact of a second coronavirus wave. 

A member of Ramaphosa’s executive told the City Press that it is unlikely that the entire country will return to a hard lockdown as experienced earlier this year.

Instead, higher restrictions are set to be introduced at a localised level in the country’s coronavirus hotspot areas. It is not yet clear if any national restrictions will be introduced.

Vaccine developments

One positive amid South Africa’s bleak Covid-19 numbers are the developments around a Covid-19 vaccine, with both the US and UK approving a vaccine for public use in the last week.

However, there are questions about how a vaccine will be procured and distributed in South Africa.

“While the latest developments on vaccine development are very positive for global growth prospects in the second half of next year it remains to be seen how South Africa will approach the procurement and ultimately the distribution of vaccines,” said the BER.

In this regard, the information currently available does not warrant an upgrade to our 2021 forecast, it said.

“If anything, the latest virus developments and less of a technical bounce given that the 2020 GDP decline will be less than expected before, puts downside risk on 2021’s growth figure.”

South Africa reported 7,999 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday (14 December), taking the total reported to 860,964.

Deaths have reached 23,276 (a daily increase of 170), while recoveries have climbed to 761,011, leaving the country with a balance of 76,677 active cases.

Read: Medical expert warns over surging hospital numbers ahead of Ramaphosa’s Covid-19 address

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