President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday that he did not know “how long or how severe the third wave will be” as he tightened restrictions in response to rising COVID infections.
In a national address on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Level 2 COVID restrictions would in place from Monday in response to rising cases, saying that he did not know “how long or how severe the third wave will be”.
The new restrictions mostly target social gatherings as well as moving the night-time curfew forward by one hour to 11pm.
No more than 100 people can attend indoor events, while the number for outside was halved to 250. However, to the relief of the liquor industry and many South Africans, no alcohol restrictions have been put in place. This demonstrates a less economically restrictive approach than the initial lockdowns, which caused the economy to shrink by 7% last year.
COVID hospitalisations increased 17% in recent days and the Free State, the Northern Cape, the North West and Gauteng are already seeing a third wave, Ramaphosa said.
A third wave is considered to be underway when the seven-day moving average of new cases exceeds 30% of the previous wave’s peak, according to the definition used by the SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium.
“It is only a matter of time before the whole country enters a third wave … gatherings are the biggest source of transmission and we urge South Africans to social distance,” Ramaphosa said.
The daily infection rate is sharply higher than the averages of between 1000 and 1500 for most of the year.
President Ramaphosa said cases averaged about 3700 in the past week, a 31% increase compared to the previous seven days, which he partly attributed to people’s increasing complacency over following health protocols.
“Because rates of infection have been low for some time, and because we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue, we have tended to become complacent.
“We have not been as vigilant about wearing our masks all the time, we have not been avoiding crowded places, and we have been socialising more,” the president said.
Due to the delay in infections and subsequent COVID testing, it may take several days for the new restrictions to have any noticeable impact on the daily number of new cases reported. The case positivity rate is now 11.9%, according to the most recent statistics for SA, now well above the 10% level which is considered acceptable.
Source: Business Day