President Cyril Ramaphosa will call a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council in the coming week to discuss the possible implementation of stricter COVID-19 lockdown measures.
This is according to a report from The Sunday Times, which said the president will recall ministers and top officials who are part of the council from their festive breaks.
“I can confidently say that the meeting will be on Tuesday,” a government insider told the publication.
The revised regulations could include more curbs on the number of people allowed to gather at indoor and outdoor events, tighter limits on the movement of people, the closure of borders, and further restrictions on the sale of alcohol.
This development comes as Health Minister Zweli Mkhize this week warned that government will need to review the current lockdown restrictions as COVID-19 infections have spiked.
“We must warn South Africans that we will need to review the current restrictions and consider further measures to ensure that we curb this alarming rate of spread,” he said.
“It will be important for us to evaluate the situation, identify hotspots in these areas and make recommendations based on these findings and the outcomes of what has been implemented in the hotspots that have been identified so far,” Mkhize explained.
Mkhize’s statement was made after the country reported over 14,000 new COVID-19 cases on 23 December.
Daily new cases of the virus increased in subsequent days with 14,305 reported on 24 December and 14,796 – the highest number yet – recorded by 25 December.
The sharp increase has been blamed partly on a new mutation of the virus – called 501Y.V2 – which appears to be more transmissible than the original variant.
Private and public hospitals in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, as well as the Western and Eastern Cape have reported running out of ICU beds and oxygen in the last few days due to the surge.
Nearing 1 million cases
As of 26 December, South Africa has recorded a cumulative total of 994,911 COVID-19 cases, an increase of 11,552 from Christmas Day.
26,521 deaths have thus far been identified has being related to the virus, with 245 thereof recorded from the previous day’s report.
The most deaths were recorded in the Eastern Cape, with 118 identified in the reported cycle.
It was followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 57, Western Cape with 55, Gauteng with 12, and Mpumalanga with 3.
While the increases in positive cases and deaths are lower than in previous days, it should be noted that much fewer tests were conducted within the last 24-hour cycle.
Whereas 37,817 new tests were conducted before the last report, the 14,796 cases reported on Christmas Day came after 52,223 new tests had been carried out.
The table below shows the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in each province.
#COVID19 Statistics in SA as at 26 December.
Use the COVID Alert SA app to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. Start using this privacy preserving app today. Add your phone to the fight! Download the Covid Alert SA app now! https://t.co/8YKEqaiiRF pic.twitter.com/pZfpsScp3W
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) December 26, 2020
Update – 15:30 Sunday
News24 has since confirmed that stakeholders for the meeting of the NCCC had already been recalled by President Ramaphosa.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu told the site that the president, ministers, and other important officials would meet on Sunday (27 December).
An announcement on government’s decisions is expected “well before New Year’s Eve”, after the proposals had been submitted to Cabinet.