Health minister Joe Phaahla says that the government will hold meetings on Tuesday or Wednesday (14 or 15 December) to make recommendations on new lockdown restrictions for South Africa.
In a media briefing on Friday (10 December), Phaahla said that the meetings will include recommendations from his department and experts from the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee.
Ahead of these meetings, the government is not currently in a position to discuss whether the country will remain at an adjusted level 1 lockdown or possibly move to a level 2 lockdown, he said.
Phaahla said that discussions around additional lockdown restrictions would focus on a number of issues, including:
- The increase in the number of cases;
- The impact of cases on hospitals;
- The impact of lockdown on the economy;
- Whether South Africans are following non-medical interventions, the level of social behaviour and whether this is having an impact on social activities.
Ministerial Advisory Committee chairperson Professor Koleka Mlisana has said that the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in South Africa means that restrictions around movement and travel are unlikely to be effective over the busy holiday season.
In an interview with radio station 702, Mlisana said that an increase in Omicron cases had been reported across almost all provinces, but the picture emerging is that these infections are less severe, which places less strain on the country’s hospitals.
“It really wouldn’t make any sense to restrict travel within the country because the variant is everywhere. What then becomes important is to look at the clinical picture. Any other restrictions would only be introduced when we see the health system overburdened. For now, it is a matter of watching closely.”
“If the early anecdotal analysis is anything to go by, we might just make it.”
Mlisana added that if the cases continue to be mild and the country’s hospitals are adequately prepared for an influx in cases, there might be no need for more burdensome interventions.
On Thursday (10 December), South Africa reported 22,391 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,093,452.
Deaths have reached 90,060 (+22), while recoveries have climbed to 2,870,329, leaving the country with a balance of 133,063 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,917,603 (+135,961).
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