President Cyril Ramamphosa has outlined interventions that will be implemented by the government to reduce the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa.
Speaking during an address to the nation on 11 November, Ramaphosa cautioned South Africans of possible resurgences of the coronavirus in the country.
“COVID-19 is far from over. It is very much still here and it will remain with us for some time to come,” Ramaphosa said.
“To date, South Africa has recorded more than 742,000 coronavirus cases. Of these people over 92% have recovered from this disease.”
“The greatest blow we have suffered since the start of this pandemic are the confirmed deaths of 20,011 people due to COVID-19,” he said.
He added that the country would ease certain level 1 lockdown restrictions to improve economic recovery, but said existing restrictions on public gatherings and public venue capacity limits will remain in place.
Restrictions that will be lifted include the limitation on trading hours for retail outlets and the sale of alcohol, as well as those on international travel.
Interventions against a second wave
Ramaphosa noted the situation in the Eastern Cape, which is showing signs of a resurgence.
He said it is a matter of time before this surge spreads to other parts of the country, and therefore measures need to be taken to contain this rise in infections.
“In response to the rising infections, we are implementing a resurgence plan that has been developed together with the research team that has been deployed to our country by the WHO,” he said.
He said that interventions which will be taken in the Eastern Cape, and possibly in other resurgence hotspots, include the following:
- Primary healthcare outreach teams to improve contact tracing.
- Daily community mobilisation.
- Ensuring the readiness of health facilities in the Eastern Cape.
- Preparing to respond to cluster outbreaks.
Community screening and testing in hotspot areas will also be expanded to reduce the possibility of a second wave.
“What we are witnessing in the Eastern Cape should be a wake-up call to all of us that we cannot relax and cannot be complacent in our response to COVID-19,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa added that the government will extend the national state of disaster by another month until 15 December 2020.
The president also cautioned South Africans to be wary of transmission over the festive season.
“The second area of concern is the upcoming festive season, during which time many South Africans travel to other parts of the country and people tend to relax and gather socially,” he said.
“These activities, if not undertaken responsibly, pose the greatest immediate threat to our management of the pandemic.”
“We can avoid a second wave if we each play our part and remember what we need to do to keep ourselves and each other safe,” Ramaphosa said.