President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Thursday night on South Africa’s response to a resurgence of the novel coronavirus in the country. The address followed a special sitting of Cabinet to consider recommendations by the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Cases continue to rise in the country, Ramaphosa said, adding that 5,800 people are in hospital as of today.
He called for caution nationwide in terms of mask-wearing, social distancing and the practice of general hygiene such as hand-washing and sanitisting.
“We can only prevent a second wave if all of us respect the rules that have been put in place,” said Ramaphosa. “It is through wearing a mask that we will be able to keep ourselves safe.”
He also once again appealed to South Africans to use the Covid-19 alert app – to date 1 million South Africans have downloaded the app.
“This virus does not relax, it does not take a holiday. We cannot let our guard down,” he added.
The NCC agreed earlier this week that hotspots should have an earlier curfew, with pubs and shebeens closing at 21:00, and bottle stores closed on Fridays, News24 reported.
Hotspots were declared during the first wave of coronavirus infections, in May, but were never subjected to different rules than the rest of the country.
On 2 December 2020, the number of confirmed infections rose by 4,173, accounting for more than 10% of South Africa’s total active caseload. Approximately 70% of all new cases emanate from the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
Nelson Mandela Bay metro has been declared a hotspot, the following rules will apply:
- Curfew effective from midnight tonight – 22:00 – 04:00.
- Alcohol sales will be restricted to Monday – Thursday (10:00 – 18:00)
- No alcohol to be consumed in public spaces.
- Religious gatherings will be restricted to 100 people in an indoor space.
- Funeral vigils and “after tears” has been banned.
- Summer initiation schools in Nelson Mandela Bay are prohibited
What about the Western Cape?
While the Garden Route has managed to avoid harsher restrictions, Ramaphosa noted that the Western Cape’s potential hotspot would be visited by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in the coming days.
If Mkhize is unsatisfied with prevention measures along the Garden Route, and there is concern around the burden on health resources, the NCCC may define the Garden Route as a hotspot and, with it, subject the region to similar restrictions imposed on Nelson Mandela Bay.
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