The effect of a hard lockdown in South Africa will be too severe and it is too late in the current Covid-19 pandemic trajectory for the harsh restrictions of a level 5 lockdown to be effective.
This was the feedback from Doctor Mary Kawonga to the Gauteng Command Council on Thursday.
“We need to balance the health, with the economic considerations,” Kawonga stated.
“Livelihoods are always affected when we have hard lockdown measures such as lockdown level 5, even lockdown level 4.”
Kawonga said that the recommendations they have been making to the provincial coronavirus command council and the Gauteng Premier David Makhura is that a level 5 lockdown is way too stringent.
“It will have a disastrous effect on the economy and people’s livelihoods. It’s also quite late in the pandemic trajectory to expect to see a big impact,” stated Kawonga.
Instead, Kawonga said that they have proposed a hybrid of existing alert level 3 measures together with some level 4 lockdown restrictions.
This would include stricter restrictions on alcohol sales, potentially without banning it outright, and strict limitations on gatherings and mobility to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The advice to the Gauteng Command Council comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa is meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) today to discuss the government’s response to the third Covid-19 wave in South Africa.
Yesterday, South Africa recorded its highest number of new daily Covid-19 infections since the third wave started.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced that South Africa’s daily Covid-19 infections rose to 17,493.
Gauteng was particularly hard hit, with 10,806 confirmed Covid-19 cases over the last 24 hours. This is the highest number of new daily cases ever in the province.
Professor Bruce Mellado, who also addressed the provincial command council, said that current data for Gauteng tracking the models of the worst-case scenario predicted for the third wave.
However, he explained that the spike in cases reported in Gauteng yesterday is alarming as it indicates that the situation in Gauteng is not under control and could end up deviating from the worst-case model.
This is a big concern, as it means the pandemic peak could get much worse than even the worst-case scenario predicted.
The pandemic peak is currently predicted to occur in the first week of July, and if the pandemic in Gauteng is not brought under control, this could also deviate from the model.
News24 reported that hospitals are so overwhelmed that medical personnel now have to choose who they will try to save and who must die.
It is because of a shortage of hospital beds, a lack of oxygen, and not enough medical professionals to care for patients.
As a result of the situation in Gauteng, several experts called for harder lockdown restrictions and a ban on alcohol sales to help hospitals to cope, with some even calling for a hard lockdown.
Others have argued that it is too late for a hard lockdown now, and moving to alert level 5 would only cause further devastation to South Africa’s already shattered economy for no discernable benefit over less restrictive lockdown measures.
President Ramaphosa has also expressed concern about the rise in Covid-19 cases in Gauteng and alluded to stricter lockdown rules.
Ramaphosa said it might be necessary for the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to review the lockdown level in the country.
Indications are that the government will have to increase the measures that it puts in place to prevent Covid-19, particularly in Gauteng.
The charts below illustrate why medical experts and politicians are so concerned about the situation in Gauteng.
This first chart shows the currently infectious people in Gauteng based on the reported new cases in the province. There is a rapid rise over the last few weeks without any signs of dissipating.
The second graph shows the reported new cases in the province, which also continue to increase.