South Africa to remain at lockdown level 3 but curfew put in place from Monday
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation to discuss the surge in cases. New measures will be put in place, including a ban on the sale of alcohol.
South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa spoke directly the nation at 20:00 this evening, Sunday, to discuss the Covid-19 situation, with the number of cases rising rapidly across the nation.
Ramaphosa said the "surge of infections" predicted by experts three months ago has now arrived, in particular in Eastern Cape and Gauteng, with the latter fast approaching 100,000 cases. Each of the provinces is expected to hit their peak between July and September. "The storm is upon us," he warned.
He said that there are now 276,242 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 4,079 deaths, with a quarter of those deaths coming in the past week. "There is an equivalent of 500 new infections every hour," said the President.
Experts are warning that 40,000 to 50,000 deaths are predicted in South Africa, "but we can and must change the course of this pandemic."
Curfew to be brought in on Monday in South Africa
Faced with this "gravest crisis", Ramaphosa said the NCCC and Cabinet have been discussing whether there was a need to move back to lockdown level four or five, however the expert advice they had been given was that moving back to a higher level would not necessarily lead to a reduction in the infection rate, but would have a massive impact on the economy, negatively impacting livelihoods.
Therefore the country will remain at level three for the time-being, however with additional strict measures. "As we reach peak of infection we must take extraordinary measures to slow the rate of infection," he said.
The main measure to be introduced will be a curfew, which will take effect from tomorrow, Monday. The curfew will run from 21:00 to 04:00, with all citizens required to be in their homes during this period. Only people who need to travel for work or who need to seek medical assistance will be allowed out.
Cabinet has approved an extension to the National State of Disaster, through to Saturday, 15 August. "There is no way that we can avoid the coronavirus storm, but we can limit the damage it causes to our lives," says the president.
Sale of alcohol prohibited again
The president explained that a priority for the country is to conserve hospital capacity, and to that end the sale and dispensing of alcohol will be suspended again with immediate effect.
According to Ramaphosa, the resumption of the sale of alcohol has resulted in more pressure on hospitals, caused by vehicle accidents, violence and other alcohol-related trauma.
Family visits still banned
President Ramaphosa explained that visiting family and social gathering was still not permitted. He accepted this was a heavy burden for many people, particularly those with aged parents.
Parks will be opened for exercise, but gatherings will not be permitted.
The importance of wearing a mask
The president stressed the importance of wearing a cloth mask and said there was no excuse for not wearing one, saying that everybody knows they have to wear a mask and it was easy to produce something that would cover the nose and mouth, even if it comes from an item of clothing.
The president said that regulations on mask wearing will be beefed up, and the owners of public buildings and transport are now "legally obliged" to make sure everybody entering their premises is wearing a mask.