S/Africa: “Rising Covid infections need new restrictions”

South Africa has been placed under Level 2 restrictions starting on Monday in an effort to reduce the rising coronavirus…

South Africa has been placed under Level 2 restrictions starting on Monday in an effort to reduce the rising coronavirus infections and deaths that have occurred in the past two weeks amid a surging third wave, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.The president made the announcement Sunday night to brief the nation on developments in the country’s response to the pandemic, which is in its 14th month since its outbreak.

According to Ramaphosa, the country’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 had recommended that the country should urgently implement further restrictions to stop the third wave from gathering momentum as had happened in the first and second waves.

 “It (committee) has based this recommendation (for further restrictions) on the sustained increase in new cases in the last 14 days, increased hospital admissions in almost all provinces and an increase in the proportion of Covid-19 tests that are positive,” the president said.

 He added: “Thus, due to this, further restrictions are necessary to ensure that our health facilities are not overwhelmed and that lives that could be saved are not lost.” 

 “Delaying the spread of the virus is especially important now to allow as many people as possible to be vaccinated before the third wave reaches its peak,” the president said.

In the tighter restrictions, the curfew hours will start at 11pm and end at 4am — a roll back of one hour, he said.

“Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres will need to close by 10pm. This is to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew,” Ramaphosa said.

 In addition, all gatherings would be limited to a maximum of 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors, he said.

 “Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used.

“This includes religious services, political events and social gatherings as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places,” Ramaphosa said.

Funerals remained restricted to 100 people or less, while night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and “after-tears” gatherings would remain banned as before, he added. 

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