SA to tighten brakes to prevent third wave of virus

South Africa is likely to extend a curfew and tighten restrictions on public gatherings during the upcoming Easter holiday period in a bid to curb a third wave of coronavirus infections, according to two people close to them folder.

A panel overseeing the response to the pandemic met on Thursday to discuss options to contain its spread, balancing health risks and economic fallout, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are always private. Stricter limits on when alcohol can be sold – a measure that has previously been shown to be effective in discouraging social gatherings and alleviating pressure on trauma services – are also under consideration, they said. .


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Some religious groups and the alcohol industry, hit hard by virus brakes, have opposed the tightening of the rules. No final decision has been made and any changes will need to be approved by cabinet, before being announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the people said.

South Africa has so far confirmed 1.54 million coronavirus infections, the most in Africa, and 52,535 of those diagnosed with the disease have died. The country has been slow to procure vaccines, with only 220,129 people vaccinated to date.

New infections have fallen from a peak in January and the country is currently at its lowest viral alert level, imposing a curfew between midnight and 4 a.m., allowing the sale of alcohol outside of curfew hours and limits public gatherings to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors. .

While the government initially imposed one of the tightest lockdowns in the world after the March pandemic last year, authorities have been reluctant to reimpose several tough measures that have resulted in the largest economic contraction in a century last year. The risk of an increase in the number of cases during the Easter, Passover and Ramadan holidays, when millions of people travel and attend large gatherings, prompted him to take preventative measures, the officials said. people.

There is widespread discontent among church leaders over the government’s response to the virus, as religious institutions behaved responsibly and there was no evidence of services leading to a single large Covid outbreak. -19, said Bishop Mosa Sono, the founder of Grace Bible Church.

A delegation of leaders met with Ramaphosa last week and explained how they would organize services safely over the Easter weekend, including discouraging worshipers from crossing provincial borders and allowing churches to be filled in. half of their capacity, he said.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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