President Cyril Ramaphosa says that his government is actively tracking the possibility of a third Covid-19 wave in South Africa, but that it has not yet made a decision to introduce a harder lockdown.
Ramaphosa, who is currently on a state visit in France, told France24 said that there has been a clear increase in Covid-19 cases across the country.
“We are watching it very closely, and if (the third wave) comes, we are ready. The issue of a lockdown is something that will only be looked at depending on the severity of the third Covid-19 wave,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that the government was ‘gearing up measures’ in preparation for a third wave, but reiterated that a lockdown would only be looked at depending on how badly the country is hit by an influx in new cases.
The president also commented on a number of key issues, including the ongoing crisis in Gaza and infighting within the ANC around suspended secretary-general Ace Magshule.
(Commentary on lockdown at 10:00 minutes in)
South Africa reported 2,355 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday (18 May), taking the total confirmed to 1,617,840.
Deaths have reached 55,340, while recoveries have climbed to 1,527,968, leaving the country with a balance of 34,532 active cases.
The country has vaccinated 39,371 people since it launched phase 2 of its vaccination rollout on Monday. The total number of vaccines administered, including healthcare workers, is 519,139.
While the health department has noted an increase in the number of new cases, the country has not yet met the technical threshold for it to be considered a third wave. However, certain regions in the country – such as Gauteng – have already met these levels.
According to Professor Adrian Puren from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the Northern Cape, Free State and the North West are showing signs of either being in the third wave or close to it.
The Gauteng government confirmed on Friday (14 May) the province has officially entered a third wave.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that government will hold meetings this week to discuss further lockdown restrictions for South Africa.
In an SABC interview on Friday (14 May), Mkhize said that the country’s Covid-19 cases have surged this week and that provincial governments and hospitals have been warned to prepare for an influx in cases.
“We have had quite a lot of discussion about it and at some point we are going to have to start looking at additional restrictions which will have to be put in to try and reduce the numbers.
“That will come from discussions with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC),” he said.
Mkhize said that his department will make recommendations around the size of gatherings as well as others measures that had been relaxed under the country’s current level 1 lockdown.
“The reality is that we all have to keep doing what we have been doing. (When) the numbers start rising up we have to start increasing the restrictions and when the numbers come down we have to keep things relaxed.
“We have to balance so that people have a life, can continue working and get to their places of work.”