Gauteng’s provincial health experts say that a move to level 5 lockdown will be too damaging for the province – but an increase in restrictions to somewhere between level 3 and level 4 may be necessary.
Professor Bruce Mellado, a member of Gauteng’s Premier’s Advisory Committee (PAC), said that the province has not yet reached its peak in cases, with the projected worst-case scenario for the province now materialising.
Initial prediction models for the province showed the third wave of infections being lower than the second wave – however, this has now proved to not be the case, Mellado said.
If the province continues to report an increase of more than 10,000 daily cases, as it did on Wednesday, this could be evidence of a new spike in infections and that further restrictions will need to be introduced, he said.
This was echoed by Dr Mary Kawonga, chair of Premier’s Advisory Committee (PAC), who said that the move to a level 3 lockdown has not shown any impact yet, although it may take up to two weeks before a difference is seen.
While the government would typically wait to see if there is an effect, Kawonga said that the rapid increase in cases in recent days ‘is very worrying’ and that further lockdown levels may need to be necessary.
— Gauteng Health (@GautengHealth) June 24, 2021
Kawonga said that there needs to be a balance between the economy and livelihoods and that a level 5 hard lockdown would likely be too harmful.
She said that it was also too late in the wave for a hard lockdown to have the necessary impact. Instead, she said Gauteng’s health experts have recommended a move to a hybrid between level 3 and level 4 lockdown.
This could include further restrictions on the sale of alcohol, she said. While an outright ban is bad for the economy, she said that it may be possible to ban sales over the weekend.
Ultimately, the decision to introduce more stringent measures lies with the national government, said Kawonga.
Gauteng recorded 10,806 confirmed Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (23 June), the highest number of new daily cases ever in the province.
Daily Covid-19 infections rose to 17,493, the highest number recorded since the country first entered the third wave of infections, and the highest since 14 January.
The number of excess deaths – thought to be a more accurate representation of mortality from Covid-19 than official statistics in the week to 13 June was also the highest since the last week of January, according to a separate report released on Wednesday by the South African Medical Research Council.