South Africa to tighten regional restrictions

A health worker walks between beds at a temporary field hospital set up by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa will impose additional restrictive measures in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in an effort to stem the resurgence of the Covid-19 cases, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address.

Under the new rules, in addition to the existing Alert Level 1 regulations, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro will impose a curfew from midnight Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Also, the sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.

Alcohol consumption in public space is strictly forbidden to prevent large social gatherings.

Ramaphosa said gatherings may not be attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events.

At all times, the total number of people in a venue may not exceed more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue. All post-funeral gatherings are prohibited.

South Africa has seen a surge in new confirmed cases in recent weeks with hospital admissions escalating.

The country has so far reported more than 800,000 Covid-19 cases, with 21,803 deaths.

Most of the new cases were recorded in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route District in the Western Cape.

“Hospital admissions in these districts are on the rise, in some instances comparable to those during the first wave of infections,” Ramaphosa said.

“To prevent this we are putting into motion the resurgence plan that we developed with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s surge team,” he said.

This plan, the President said, would include making more capacity available at hospitals and clinics, expanding public health interventions such as testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine as well as stepping up awareness campaigns around public health regulations.

He added that South Africa was taking part in the COVAX facility, the WHO-backed global initiative with an aim of accelerating the development and manufacture of coronavirus vaccines and ensuring equitable distribution of eventual vaccines.

“But let us remember that until a vaccine is developed and distributed, we remain our own best protection against Covid-19,” he said, calling on South Africans to wear masks in public, observe social distancing and avoid large gatherings.

Ramaphosa also extended the National State of Disaster to January 15, 2021.

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