Africa’s second top economy, South Africa is yet unhinged with the grilling impacts of the coronavirus, which has already taken more than 58,000 lives and infected more than 1.7 million in the country.
“In view of the rising infections, we have therefore decided to move the country to Alert Level 3.This will take effect later this evening once the regulations have been gazetted,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
According to President Ramaphosa speech, different issues related to the adoption of the new alert level were raised and the national leader rallied people to embrace the new precautions for the longevity of the nation.
“We know that as difficult as the last 15 months have been, we have started to recover and rebuild. Although it has encountered several setbacks, our mass vaccination programme is gaining momentum and we are finally on the path to controlling the disease. But although we have reason to hope, we still have a mountain to climb,” President Ramaphosa said in his speech on Tuesday.
It has been 15 months since the pandemic hit the diversified economy in Africa, affecting the economy significantly. According to information from Statistics South Africa, Gross domestic product shrank 7 per cent, compared with a 0.2 per cent expansion in 2019.
According to the speech, the third wave of infections is upon South Africa. This new reality prompted the President to assure the nation, saying, “we have to contain this new wave of infections”.
However, his speech went deep to unravel several serious issues including the spiking numbers of cases and death.
“Since I last spoke to you just over two weeks ago, the average number of daily new infections has doubled. Then, we were recording around 3,700 daily infections. Over the last seven days, we have recorded an average of 7,500 daily infections. Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 over the last 14 days are 59 per cent higher than the preceding 14 days. The average number of people who die from COVID-19 each day has increased by 48 per cent from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days,” President Ramaphosa said.
South Africa was among the hardest impacted country in Africa by the pandemic, thus the new alert level 3 comes as the country struggles to sustain a vaccination drive that has faced delays from global vaccine shortages and this week the news of discarding nearly two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to factory contamination in the United States.
The alert level measures
According to the speech the hours of the curfew will commence at 10 pm and end at 4 am, whereby non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres will need to close by 9 pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the commencement of the curfew.
“The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will only be permitted between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday to Thursday. This excludes public holidays. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 9 pm. Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden,” according to the President speech.
On the same note, South Africa had one of the strictest lockdowns in the region, hence—this new alert level emerged due to a new surge that came amid economic recovery due to pandemic shocks.
Only a small portion of the 60 million population has been vaccinated in South Africa. However, almost 480,000 health workers have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to date as part of Phase One of the programme.
“As part of Phase Two, a further 1.5 million health workers and people over the age of 60 have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This brings the total number of people who have received a vaccine dose to almost 2 million. The pace of vaccinations has steadily picked up, and we are now vaccinating around 80,000 people a day at over 570 sites in the public and private sector. This number will grow rapidly in the weeks to come, as we aim to protect as many vulnerable people as possible,” President Ramaphosa said.
Further down the line, the South African president assured the public that, the country would have received nearly a total of 3.1 million Pfizer doses.