fr24news– South Africa imposes a vast set of new coronavirus restrictions as the country faces a third wave of variant-based infection that threatens to overtake the previous two.
“We are in the throes of a devastating wave which by all indications appears to be worse than those which preceded it,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a speech to the nation on Sunday. “The peak of this third wave should be higher than the two previous waves. “
The Delta variant, first discovered in India, appears to be behind the new surge in South Africa, Ramaphosa said. The country recorded more than 15,000 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, including 122 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to nearly 60,000.
Since Monday, all indoor and outdoor gatherings in the country have been banned. Funerals and cremations will be limited to 50 people, and memorials after funeral gatherings are prohibited. All non-essential establishments will be required to close before 8 p.m., instead of the current 10 p.m. curfew, and an 11 p.m. nighttime curfew will be extended to 9 p.m., expiring at 4 a.m. each morning.
Restaurants will be limited to take-out or delivery. All alcohol sales, whether for on-site or off-site consumption, will be suspended.
“Our Ministerial Advisory Committee indicated that the limited restrictions we previously imposed were not so effective and that a ban would ease the strain on hospital departments by alcohol-related emergency incidents,” said Ramaphosa.
All pleasure travel to and from Gauteng province, which now accounts for around 60% of the country’s new cases, will be banned, he said. Visits to nursing homes and other gathering places will be restricted. Gauteng is the most populous province and includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Schools and other educational establishments will close early for winter break, starting Wednesday; all schools are expected to close by Friday, Ramaphosa said.
The restrictions will remain in place for 14 days, after which they will be reassessed, Ramaphosa said.
South Africa first returned to stricter measures in late May as infections rose in some areas. Officials have sought to avoid a full-fledged third wave by limiting participation in social gatherings and putting in place a business curfew.
But since then conditions have only deteriorated, Ramaphosa said.
“What we are seeing is that the existing containment measures in place are not enough, not enough to cope with the speed and scale of infections that we are experiencing in this third wave,” he said. he declares.
As of Sunday, the seven-day national average of new cases had already passed the peak of the first wave in July and was approaching the peak of the second wave in January, Ramaphosa said. He said it’s also possible that the third wave lasted longer than the first, which was 15 weeks, and the second, which lasted nine weeks.
The resurgence is due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India in March and has now been identified in 85 countries, including five from the provinces of South Africa, Ramaphosa said.
“The evidence we have is that the Delta variant is quickly replacing the beta variant, which has dominated our country so far,” said Ramaphosa.
Although preliminary data suggests that the variant does not cause more severe disease than the other variants, it is believed to be up to twice as transmissible, which means more people are likely to get sick and get sick. need hospital treatment, he said. New evidence also indicates that people previously infected with the beta variant do not have full protection against the delta variant and may be re-infected, he said. And it may also be more likely to cause illness in children, although their overall infection rates are still significantly lower than those in adults, he said.
“Because it is much more contagious, the measures we have taken so far to contain the spread of the virus may no longer be sufficient to reduce transmission,” Ramaphosa said.
The additional restrictions are needed to protect healthcare facilities across the country, where intensive care beds are already scarce, he said.
Ramaphosa also called on everyone to continue wearing masks, which are mandatory in public spaces, and said employers must allow staff to work from home and postpone all non-essential travel and gatherings to the place of. job.
The return to stricter measures comes as South Africa comes under criticism for being slow in rolling out vaccines, which has likely contributed to the resurgence. Ramaphosa said on Sunday that the program was accelerating rapidly, with nearly 2.7 million of the country’s roughly 60 million people receiving at least one dose.
South Africa recently received 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 1.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said.