What to expect when Ramaphosa addresses the nation on Sunday
When President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on Sunday, indications are he is likely to ban gatherings and tighten restrictions on alcohol.
Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi confirmed on Saturday the national coronavirus command council held an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the rapid spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in SA.
TimesLIVE understands that proposals tabled for Gauteng, where infections are increasing exponentially, include a ban on all gatherings, a request that everyone work from home if possible, and a two-week ban on alcohol sales.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said as the result of these developments, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure was convening on Saturday afternoon to prepare recommendations for a another command council meeting on Sunday.
This will be followed by a meeting of the presidential co-ordinating council, which includes premiers, mayors and representatives of traditional leadership groups.
A cabinet meeting will then take place before Ramaphosa reveals what measures have been decided on.
Addressing the media in a hastily arranged briefing on Saturday, Kubayi said: “There is a belief that the current restrictions, especially when we deal with Gauteng, are not sufficient and therefore recommendations will be made.
“We continue to see infections rapidly rising and Gauteng continues to be the epicentre of these new infections.
“We remain very worried about the rise in hospitalisations which is putting a lot of strain on the health facilities in Gauteng. The trends are clearly showing that other provinces are going to experience the trend we are seeing in Gauteng, notably in the Western and Eastern Cape.”
Nationally, daily infection numbers have surpassed the first wave peak and the third wave is likely to be the biggest yet, said Kubayi.
“Previously we had communicated that the third wave peak is unlikely to surpass the second wave peak ... but this was based on the assumption that SA does not get a new variant.
“Unfortunately this is no longer the case. Our scientists, after their sequencing experiments, have discovered that we have a new variant that is prevalent in our country. This new variant is called Delta. It not new ... it exists in other countries,” she said.
The head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, Prof Koleka Mlisana, said: “If we need to reduce the number of infections and the transmission rate we are going to need to make sure that we get onto hard restrictions.
“It means that we are going to be very decisive and go to the extent of saying, 'how do we restrict movement of persons?' and that needs to be done urgently. It means that ... we should be saying no gatherings whatsoever. ”