Will SA Enter A Hard Lockdown?

On Sunday South Africa surpassed the one million mark for COVID-19 cases and many have been speculating about whether a hard lockdown will follow. 

The South African government has been trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus by placing amended lockdown restrictions in certain parts of the country identified as hotspots. However, over the festive season Covid-19 cases have increased rapidly and the cumulative number of infections in the country stands at 1 004 413. 

The rapid spread of the virus is said to be driven by the new variant of the coronavirus identified as the 501.V2 variant, which makes the virus more transmissable. The increased amount of social gatherings in the festive season has also contributed to this. 

800 000 cumulative cases were reported in early December and 100 000 more cases were reported within two weeks after that. 

Newzroom Afrika spoke to Mandla Lionel Isaacs and Dr Sthembile Mbete on the possibilities of South Africa experiencing a hard lockdown again and what impact it will have on the economy and the health system.

Isaacs says that with the economic challenges the country is experiencing there is no chance that a harsh lockdown of levels 4 and 5 could be implemented. 

"I think we're going to see calibrated regulations, probably crack downs on large gatherings like bars, taverns and indoor party environments where there is people in close proximity." said Isaacs. 

Dr Mbete says that a challenge that the government will face is the legitimacy of harsher measures within the general public. 

She says that it appears that the public has become Covid-19 fatigued. This is when people become tired of the health and safety measures and are less likely to follow the public health practices put in place to slow the spread of the virus. 

Dr Mbete says that the regulations that are in place have not been enforced properly such as those restaurants which have been operating at full capacity. 

Both Isaacs and Dr Mbete says more contact tracing and rigorous testing must be done to identify hotspots and flare ups as that's what has helped countries like Taiwan and South Korea to contain the spread of the virus. 

South Africa's economy does depend very heavily on the tourism industry so Isaacs says strategic plans must be put in place to prevent this industry from being disrupted for long periods of time. 

Public and private hospitals have been put under immense strain since the second wave began in the country and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that the government will assess the whole country and decide on whether further restrictions will be implemented. 

"We must warn South Africans that we will need to review the current restrictions and consider further measures to ensure that we curb this alarming rate of spread.

“Therefore, it will be important for us to evaluate the situation in these provinces, identify hot spots in these areas (and in other provinces where they may be identified) and make recommendations based on these findings and the outcomes of what has been implemented in the hot spots that have been identified so far,” he said.

The president has not confirmed when the next national address will be, although many speculate that it will happen tonight.






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