Government considers move to higher lockdown level in South Africa: report

Government officials will meet with scientific advisors and medical experts this week to discuss the possibility of introducing further restrictions in South Africa as the third Covid-19 wave hits.

Gauteng’s provincial command council will meet on Tuesday (22 June), with the meeting set to focus on the possibility of recommending severe restrictions, similar to what was imposed when the country was under level 4 or 5 lockdowns, BusinessDay reports.

A national meeting is set to be held on Thursday (24 June) where these and other recommendations will be tabled.

South Africa moved to a level 3 lockdown on 15 June, introducing further restrictions around gatherings, the sale of alcohol and a tighter curfew.

However, some experts have already warned that these measures will not be enough to give relief to Gauteng’s struggling hospitals which are grappling with an influx in cases. A total of 5,218 people were hospitalised with Covid-19  in Gauteng as of Sunday (20 June).

Experts say more restrictions are needed now

The South Medical Association (SAMA) has criticised the government’s response to the country’s third wave of Covid-19 infections, which it warns is likely to be worse than the first two.

In a series of media interviews this past week, the group said that stricter lockdown measures need to be implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus or else the country risks losing the fight against the pandemic.

“There should be tighter restrictions on gatherings, people should stay at home as much as possible, we need to look at the schools again, especially in Gauteng,” said SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.

“If you want a bed in Gauteng you are going to struggle so this is what we’re seeing and if we want to get out of this we need to make tough decisions. But it seems like it’s not going to happen so for now it is what it is and no one should be astonished if the numbers go up.”

Netcare chief executive Stephen Friedland told 702 that the third wave was likely to hit provinces outside of Gauteng in the next month, with the Western Cape likely three to four weeks behind.

He also gave his support to the introduction of further restrictions to help ease the strain on hospitals – including the closure of schools.

South Africa reported 9,160 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday (21 June), taking the total reported to 1,832,479. 69% of these new cases were reported in Gauteng alone.

Deaths have reached 58,795, while recoveries have climbed to 1,656,680, leaving the country with a balance of 117,004 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 2,114,204.

Read: South Africa plans to make mRNA Covid-19 vaccines locally

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