Mini lockdowns and regional restrictions considered for South Africa

As the number of new COVID-19 cases increase in hotspots in South Africa, new measures like additional restrictions and mini lockdowns are on the cards.

Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize revealed that the country recorded 3,370 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

There were 86 more deaths, of which 55 came from the Eastern Cape and 19 from the Free State.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases has shown a steady increase in recent weeks, it is not the biggest concern.

The main concern is that a large number of the new cases are coming from a handful of hotspots in South Africa – notably in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said he is deeply concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations in the province.

The said it can now be considered as an established resurgence with the province witnessing a 52.1% jump in new cases over the last week.

This growth is primarily driven by two districts in the Western Cape – the Garden Route and the Cape Metro.

“My biggest concern is for our health platform, which is under growing pressure. We need to ensure that every person gets healthcare when they need it,” Winde said.

“We must be under no illusion as to how serious the situation is, and how quickly it can deteriorate further.”

A similar situation is playing itself out in the Eastern Cape, which prompted Mkhize to visit medical facilities in the province to assess its readiness for the spike in cases.

Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the coronavirus hotspots in the province, which forced the Eastern Cape Department of Health to launch a new testing and tracing programme in the metro.

Stricter measures and mini lockdowns

To address the regional spikes in COVID-19 outbreaks, the government is considering measures like additional restrictions and mini lockdowns.

SABC News reported Mkhize is set to announce additional restrictions and lockdowns for Nelson Mandela Bay to curb the infection rate.

Winde and his Western Cape Cabinet have also discussed district lockdown to fight the second wave of infections in the province.

He said the country cannot afford another hard lockdown as it would kill jobs and cause the current humanitarian disaster to worsen.

They are, however, looking at the tools available to them to create a “sort of mini lockdown” or closing down a region.

Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape Health Department, said they are considering all possibilities to stop the spread of the virus.

These include “appropriate restrictions” which can be applied at local, municipal, or provincial level.

This echoes Mkhize’s announcement that the government will discuss additional lockdown restrictions to control the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in areas such as Nelson Mandela Bay.

Mkhize said that the idea of using “differentiated approaches” for specific hotspot areas was first mooted in May and June this year.

Under this approach, the government will look to introduce a package of interventions in problem areas.

“When we see the numbers that we do now, we need to start restricting the hours of movement, particularly in the evening,” he said.

“We also have to look at the numbers in the hospitals to look at the impact of alcohol-induced pressure and start discussing issues in that regard.”

New daily cases in the Eastern Cape (source)

New daily cases in the Western Cape (source)

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize comments

Keith Cloete interview

SABC report

Western Cape Health Department proposes local restrictions

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Mini lockdowns and regional restrictions considered for South Africa