South Africa moves to stricter COVID-19 lockdown amid fears of third wave

JOHANNESBURGWritten By: Kalden OngmuUpdated: May 31, 2021, 10:51 AM IST

Ramaphosa has now called on countries to "immediately and urgently" reverse "unjustified" travel bans Photograph:(Reuters)

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"Under level 2 lockdown, hours of curfew will start at 11 pm and end at 4 am. Restaurants, bars, gyms to close at 10 pm," South Africa President Ramaphosa said

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced that the country would move to lockdown level-2 on Monday (May 31) after coronavirus cases continued surging amid increasing fears of a third wave of the pandemic.

“Based on the recommendation on the sustained increase in new cases in the last 14 days, increased hospital admissions in almost all provinces...Cabinet has therefore decided that the country will be placed on Adjusted Alert Level 2 with effect from tomorrow,” Ramaphosa said.
The provinces of Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Gauteng have reached the threshold of the third wave of infections. “It may only be a matter of time before the country as a whole will have entered the third wave,” he said. 
"Under level 2 lockdown, hours of curfew will start at 11 pm and end at 4 am. Restaurants, bars, gyms to close at 10 pm," Ramaphosa said. 
Further, funerals will remain restricted to no more than 100 people, and as before, night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and after-tears gatherings are not allowed, he added. 
“Further restrictions are necessary to ensure that health facilities are not overwhelmed and that lives that could be saved are not lost. Delaying the spread of the virus is especially important now to allow as many people as possible to be vaccinated before the third wave peaks,” Ramaphosa said. 
He urged people to continue maintaining social distance and wear the mask. 
“It remains mandatory for every person to wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times when in public spaces. It is a criminal offence not to do so,” he said. 
South Africa has vaccinated nearly 480,000 health workers during the first phase and more than 67 per cent of public health workers have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he reported. 
Over the last two weeks, over 480,000 people have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as part of the public vaccination campaign, he added. 
Over 960,000 people in South Africa have received one vaccine dose, the President said adding that within the next few days, it would have administered vaccine doses to more than one million of the most vulnerable South Africans. 
Ramaphosa reiterated that the country has secured enough vaccines to reach all adults in the country, which is around 40 million people. This includes 31 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will be manufactured in South Africa and 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses to provide full protection.
The president also said that in the African continent, they are pushing ahead with efforts to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity to be self-sufficient in vaccine production.
“We are continuing to urge all countries to support a waiver of the TRIPS agreement at the World Trade Organisation so that COVID-19 vaccines and treatments can be produced on a greater scale, at lower cost and a faster pace,” Ramaphosa said.