Deputy President David Mabuza met with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Tuesday to discuss whether South Africa would need to impose stricter lockdown regulations over the festive season as the country is battered by a fourth wave of Covid infections driven by the Omicron variant.
Mabuza took over all responsibilities from President Cyril Ramaphosa for the week after Ramaphosa tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.
Speculation of tighter lockdown regulations was rife this past week as the country saw a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections. Talks of banning the sale of alcohol on weekends and public holidays until mid-January and restrictions around interprovincial travel had both the tourism and hospitality industry seething with anger as the tourism industry struggles to keep their heads above water after the recent travel ban imposed by the UK, which saw the South African tourism industry lose R1 billion in travel bookings.
The NCCC announced on Thursday that South Africa will remain on level 1 lockdown for the moment, despite the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections currently spreading across various provinces.
They said that, according to scientific studies, this virus is spreading quicker than in previous waves, but the rates of hospitalisations and deaths remain relatively low.
“We call upon all travellers, especially those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated coming from areas declared hotspots, to get vaccinated before hitting the roads to protect their families and friends they will be visiting during this period associated with large social gatherings like parties and weddings, which can be ‘super spreader’ events that carry a huge risk of transmission of the virus.”
Minister Phaahla said that the department will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout the festive period and will make the necessary recommendations to the NCCC in the best interest of people`s lives and livelihoods.
Vaccination sites will remain operational throughout the festive period and pop-up sites will be erected in public places like malls and roadblocks.
The Citizen/ Xanet Scheepers