Covid-19: Cyril Ramaphosa confirms tighter restrictions on the cards
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday confirmed that tighter restrictions were on the cards as SA enters its third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa, who was delivering a virtual address at the ANC’s ninth Northern Cape provincial conference, is expected to address the nation on how the government intends to manage the pandemic as the winter season gets into full swing.
“Indications are that our country is entering the third wave as the Covid-19 infections are just going up and we must do everything in our power to mitigate this. We once again have to remind South Africans to be vigilant and protect themselves and each other,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa also expressed concern over the rising number of infections in the Northern Cape saying the province has shown the highest infections per capita in the country at nearly 34 to 100, followed by the Free State with nearly 15 per 100 infections.
“These provinces have seen a spike in infections during the last few weeks and hospital admissions tell us that the infection rate is high as admissions have been rising considerably. It has been reported that the provinces' ICU capacity is under a great deal of stress.”
As the country enters its third week of the government’s phase 2 vaccination programme, targeting those over the age of 60, there are fears that tighter restrictions may lead to further job losses, curfews and the banning of alcohol.
Ramaphosa said the recent stoppage of the sale of alcohol had revealed that SA has a “complicated, possibly unhealthy” relationship with alcohol.
“We need to have more in-depth research and a comprehensive national discussion about this matter and our aim, and I urge you to have regard to this during your policy discussions.
“How can we address this alcohol challenge? It is huge, we are reputed to be possibly number three in alcohol-consuming countries. Alcohol also leads to gender-based violence which continues to plague our communities.”
He also lambasted those who misappropriated Covid-19 funds for their own benefit.
“There are some unscrupulous and inhumane individuals who used Covid-19 to steal from the people, law enforcement will continue to deal with these.”
Ramaphosa pleaded with South Africans to continue with non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing masks, social distancing, washing and sanitising of hands.
“We all know someone who has been sick and many of us have lost loved ones to this horror.”
He admitted that the speed at which the vaccination rollout was unfolding was slow.
“Let us urge the elderly to register and upon receipt of their SMS's to go and get their vaccinations. There have been great stories of how those who have been eligible have been treated quickly but there have also been stories where people have waited for far too long.”
To this he said, “We are going to get rid of all these wrinkles and make sure that there is quick service as we increase the vaccination process.”
He assured South Africans that in the next phase of the vaccination programme everyone will get vaccinated.
On the equitable accessibility of the vaccines, Ramaphosa told delegates that he would continue to lobby the international community to waiver the intellectual property on vaccines so that SA can locally manufacture and distribute its own vaccines.