Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended the national state of disaster for another month.
The minister announced the change in a new government gazette, which stated that the national state of disaster will remain in place until 15 February 2021.
Dlamini-Zuma cited the “need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster” as the reason for the extension.
While South Africa remains under lockdown restrictions the national state of disaster must remain in place, as the legislation enforcing restrictions on citizens is promulgated under the National State of Disaster Act.
Existing level 3 lockdown restrictions were recently extended until further notice, following an address to the nation by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week.
In his address, Ramaphosa stated that the COVID-19 pandemic is at the worst stage it has ever been in South Africa, and he stressed the importance of compliance with lockdown restrictions.
The increase in daily deaths and infections has placed a severe strain on the national healthcare system, and for this reason, the ban on alcohol has remained in place, as allowing the sale of liquor would result in a spike in trauma cases.
Ramaphosa also announced that the government will deploy a comprehensive vaccination strategy that aims to reach all parts of the country.
“It will be far more extensive than our HIV treatment programme or even our national, provincial and local elections in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time,” Ramaphosa said.
The three-pronged strategy includes, firstly, the acquisition of enough vaccine doses to reach herd immunity.
South Africa is procuring vaccines through three channels: through the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility, through the African Union’s vaccine initiative and through direct engagements with vaccine manufacturers.
The country is expected to receive vaccine doses for around 10% of the population through COVAX.
South Africa has secured 20 million doses to be delivered mainly in the first half of the year, and further announcements will be made as the government concludes negotiations with manufacturers.
The distribution of vaccines will prioritise frontline workers, frontline personnel, the elderly, prisoners, adults with comorbidities, and those in shelters.