While the world is battling coronavirus pandemic one step at a time, the threat looms large for the third wave of Covid-19 induced pandemic. India itself is battling out from the dastard second wave, South Africa is already hit by the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said four out of the country’s nine provinces were already hit by the covid-19 third wave and the others are well on their way. Addressing the nation Ramaphosa announced to tighten the ongoing Covid restrictions.
The economic hub of Gauteng province has been particularly hard hit, accounting for two-thirds of the 40 percent increase in infections across the country in the past week. The average number of people dying in the province from COVID-19 has increased by 48 percent.
“Within a matter of a few days, it is likely that the number of new cases in Gauteng will surpass the peak of the second wave. We must act decisively and act quickly to save lives,” Ramaphosa said.
To stem the third wave of the pandemic, the president said, the government will move to the higher level-3 of the COVID-19 lockdown regulations, effective from Tuesday midnight.
As part of the level-3 alert, a night curfew will be imposed which will start at 10 pm and end at 4 am.
Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres are now required to close by 9 pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.
Gatherings are now limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate appropriate social distancing, 50% of the floor space may be used. Gatherings at funerals and cremations also must not exceed 50.
Sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will only be permitted between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday to Thursday, excluding public holidays.
South Africa has so far reported 1,761,066 COVID-19 infections and 58,087 deaths due to the disease. The country in the last seven days has recorded an average of 7,500 daily infections. The death toll has increased by 48% from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days.
“The massive surge in new infections means that we must once again tighten restrictions on the movements of persons and gatherings. We need to enforce compliance more rigorously and take firmer action against those who do not adhere to the regulations that save our lives,” Ramaphosa said.
“We know from the last two waves of infections and experience from around the world that when health facilities are overwhelmed, more lives are lost. Our priority is to ensure that we have enough health workers and hospital beds,” the president said, observing that hospitals were nearing capacity, especially in Gauteng, where the increase in infections was “faster and steeper than other provinces”.
(With PTI Inputs)
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