Health department submits recommendations for tighter lockdown in South Africa

 ·25 May 2021

The Department of Health says that it will make recommendations to introduce further lockdown restrictions in a National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Responding to questions from BusinessTech, department of health spokesperson Popo Maja said that the recommendations have been made by scientists on South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC).

He added that the department was greatly concerned about the recent rise in Cold-19 cases, with a clear increase in infections seen in recent weeks as parts of country officially enter a third wave.

Maja said that the department would highlight these concerns as well as the MAC recommendations as part of its presentation to the NCC.

While Maja could not comment on the specific interventions being considered, earlier reports have indicated that they focus on gatherings and an extended evening curfew.

He added that any further restrictions, including a possible reintroduction of controls around alcohol sales, would have to introduced by president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet, as this is not a department of health decision.

Limit on gatherings is necessary

Marc Mendelson, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cape Town, and other experts have called for limits on large gatherings, which they said will help limit the spread of Covid-19.

Mendelson said indoor and mass gatherings are linked to super-spreader events, which South Africa should guard against.

He further called on the government to immediately ban mass gatherings and limit indoor gatherings, including at churches, casinos, and other indoor areas.

This was echoed by professor Alex van den Heever from the Wits School of Governance who said that limiting mass gatherings was the right thing to do.

Winter periods make it difficult to contain the virus, which means that even with restrictions it is challenging to avoid another wave. If South Africa can address gatherings, however, it will reduce the possibility of a severe third wave, he said.

Read: Government considering level 2 lockdown for South Africa: report

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