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It's time to go back to basics, says President Cyril Ramaphosa, as third wave sets in

Ramaphosa said South Africans need to remind themselves how the virus is spread “so that each one of us makes sure that we behave in a way that reduces the chances of transmission”

15 June 2021 - 21:26 By Sipokazi Fokazi

It’s time to go back to go back to basics.

This was the stern warning from President Cyril Ramaphosa as the country battles a huge surge in new Covid-19 infections which, the president said on Tuesday night, necessitated the need to move to lockdown level 3 restrictions.

Ramaphosa said South Africans needed to remind themselves of how the virus is spread “so that each one of us makes sure that we behave in a way that reduces the chances of transmission”.

“We must not disregard the basic precautions that we know are so essential. Our scientists inform us that it is through our behaviour that the virus is spread. We must remember that many people who are infected with Covid-19 do not show any symptoms. The person who may be sitting next to you in a taxi, who may be a co-worker, or a friend or even a family member at a social gathering may be infected.

“You could get infected as you are travelling in a taxi that does not have any windows open.

“You could catch the virus from your co-worker who does not wear their face mask in a way that covers their nose and mouth. Your friend or family member may not have washed or sanitised their hands before passing you a drink or a plate of food, and you could get infected,” said Ramaphosa during his address on Tuesday night.

He said that following Covid-19 protocols, including strict quarantine of 10 days if in contact with someone who tested positive, is one of the best ways to stop the virus from spreading.

“Basic changes in behaviour can make a huge difference. We have spoken about this many times, but it does bear repeating, because oftentimes there are lapses in our behaviour. We must be more diligent, more consistent and more aware of our actions.

“If we are careful and diligent we can limit transmission and bring down the rate of infection. The fewer people who are infected at any one time, the fewer people get sick, fewer people need to be hospitalised, fewer people need ICU care, and fewer people need ventilators,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that judging from the previous experience of the last two waves of infections — when health facilities were overwhelmed as the numbers of serious cases rose dramatically — the priority was now to ensure that the country had enough hospital beds, enough healthcare workers, oxygen and ventilators.

“The huge surge in new infections means that we must again tighten restrictions on the movement of persons and gatherings. We need to enforce compliance more rigorously and we need to take firmer action against those who do not adhere to the regulations,” he said.