South Africa

CORONAVIRUS

Ramaphosa: South Africa will move to Alert Level 1 after emerging from second wave of Covid-19

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, 28 February 2021. (Photo: GCIS / Jairus Mmutle)

South Africa’s Covid-19 second wave is officially over and lockdown restrictions are to be further reduced, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday evening. Under Alert Level 1, the curfew will be relaxed, more types of gatherings are permitted, and alcohol can be sold according to normal hours.

With only four days to go until South Africa’s first coronanniversary, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on Sunday night that lockdown restrictions are lifting further.

Under Alert Level 1, which came into effect on Sunday night:

  • Curfew hours are now from 12 midnight to 4am;
  • Religious, social, political and cultural gatherings are permitted with audience size limitations;
  • Indoor gatherings must be restricted to 100 or less;
  • Outdoor gatherings must be restricted to 250 or less;
  • If the venues are too small for these numbers, no more than 50% of the venue capacity may be accommodated;
  • Nightclubs will remain closed;
  • The sale of alcohol will resume according to normal licence provisions;
  • The wearing of masks is still mandatory and failure to do so a criminal offence;
  • SA’s 32 currently closed land border posts will remain closed;
  • SA’s 20 currently open land border posts will remain open; and
  • Five airports will be open for international travel with infection controls, namely: OR Tambo, Cape Town International, King Shaka, Mpumalanga and Lanseria.

Ramaphosa said that the Cabinet had taken the decision to ease restrictions in this manner because evidence shows that South Africa has “now emerged from the second wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The president cited the fall in both hospital admissions and infection numbers as proof that there has been a “dramatic decline in [Covid-19] cases over the past eight weeks”.

In the past week, South Africa saw just under 10,000 new infections. The same week in January recorded 40,000 new cases, and its December equivalent racked up close to 90,000 new cases.

Ramaphosa said this drop was attributable to the public health measures put in place, to behaviour changes by members of the public, to the growing immunity to Covid-19, and to people’s adherence to the lockdown regulations.

In a shorter address than has become customary, the president also expressed satisfaction with the launch of the country’s vaccination programme. He said that more than 67,000 healthcare workers had been vaccinated in the 10 days since the programme was launched.

Over the next week, Ramaphosa said, the 17 current vaccination sites nationally would increase to 49, of which 32 were situated at public hospitals and 17 in private facilities.

Phase Two of the vaccination plan is expected to begin in “late April, early May”, he announced, once the inoculation of healthcare workers finishes.

Phase Two will encompass elderly people, essential workers, and those with comorbidities.

“For this phase, we will be activating many more sites for vaccination,” Ramaphosa said.

When it comes to vaccine availability, the president expressed confidence that: “We will be secured”.

He said that a new batch of 80,000 Johnson & Johnson doses had arrived on Saturday, and that an agreement with the same company will see a further 11 million doses arriving, of which 2.8 million are due for delivery in the second quarter and the rest “spread throughout the year”.

Twenty million Pfizer doses are also due in the second quarter, and South Africa is in the process of finalising the arrangements for the 12 million doses it is receiving through the developing world Covax facility.

“We are in constant contact with various other vaccine manufacturers to ensure that we have the necessary quantities of vaccines when we need them,” Ramaphosa said.

He closed his address with reference to the country’s economic situation, expressing hope that the lowered lockdown restrictions would lead to “higher consumption spending” – together with businesses now pressing ahead with plans previously put on hold.

“As we undertake further structural reforms, this will entranch the green shoots we have begun to see in the economy,” Ramaphosa said.

“That is why all our energy and effort must now go into growing the economy – and this includes keeping infections down.” DM

Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c), it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address Covid-19. We are, therefore, disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information we should know about, please email [email protected]

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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