South African President says no to hard lockdown

Cyril Ramaphosa

Durban: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said the government is not considering returning to a hard lockdown.

The exponential increase in Covid-19 cases in South Africa ignited speculations across the country that the government might re-introduce a hard lockdown as a measure to curb the rising infections.

South Africa has so far recorded 717,000 coronavirus cases and 19,008 deaths due to the disease.

During a National Council of Provinces (equivalent to Upper House of Parliament) session, Ramaphosa said there was no new lockdown on the cards.

I don’t want people to be alarmed with the rumours that we are going to level three (of the five-level lockdown, which is currently at the lowest level one). That is simply not true. If it gets there, I will advise the nation, he said.

The president said he will be studying a new report on the infection situation in the country.

He said the government has observed some “worrying” trends. We all are not adhering to the protective measures. We’ve been reading reports of how groups of people have gone to meetings and parties where infections have been reported and where people who gathered together have become like super spreaders, Ramaphosa said.

He urged people to adhere to the prescribed non-pharmaceutical interventions to fight the pandemic, including wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitisation.

The President said there is a need to be even more cautious during the holiday period in December when people would tend to let their guard down, while the pandemic would still be very much around.

In the past week, there have been speculations that a new lockdown might be necessary as the number of new infections continue to rise daily.

Among those who cautioned that a new lockdown might be on the cards was Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Both Mkhize and his wife had contracted the viral infection and recovered from the disease a fortnight ago.

The premier of Kwazulu-Natal province, Sihle Zikalala, had also said that widespread disregard for social distancing, sanitising and curfew requirements still in place were very alarming and would necessitate a new lockdown.