South Africa will move to adjusted Level 4 as the country is faced with a rising number of Covid-19 infections dominated by the more transmissible Delta variant, President Ramaphosa said.
“What we are seeing is that the existing containment measures in place are not enough to cope with the speed and the scale of the infections we are experiencing under this third wave,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address.
“Cabinet has decided that the country should move to adjusted alert level four.”
Ramaphosa said the additional restrictions will be in place for the next 14 days. All gatherings, indoors and outdoors were prohibited, he said. Public places like beaches and parks remain open, but no gatherings are permitted.
Curfew will be in place from 9pm to 4am and non-essential establishments will have to close at 8pm.
“The sale of alcohol – both for on-site and off-site consumption – is prohibited.”
He said that because the Delta variant was more contagious so the measures the country has has in place may no longer be sufficient to reduce the spread.
“We therefore need to take extra precautions,” he said.
“We are in the grip of a devastating wave, that by all indications seems like it will be worse than those that have proceeded it.”
He urged South Africans to continue to be careful, to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
Ramaphosa’s address came after a flurry of meetings to consider measures to respond to the Delta variant and the surge in infections.
The cumulative Covid-19 cases reported on Sunday stood at 1 928 897 after 15 036 new cases were reported, the National Health Department said.
The department said this meant that the active cases in South Africa were 158 998 active cases in the country. The total number of deaths to date were 59 900 after 122 new deaths were reported. The recovery rate was 88.7 percent.
South Africa recorded 17 958 new Covid-19 infections on Saturday, as well as 157 deaths. Gauteng has the highest active cases with 78 359, followed by 15 612 cases in the Western Cape.
On Friday, the country recorded more than 18 000 new infections, with 215 deaths.
The latest coronavirus infections appear to be dominated by the Delta variant that was first identified in India, scientists said on Saturday as a third wave swept the country.
The country’s second wave was driven by the Beta variant first detected locally, but scpecialists said that the Delta variant now looks to be leading new infections.
“A new variant seems to be not only arising, but it seems to start dominating the infections in South Africa,” Professor Tulio de Oliveira from the University of KwaZulu-Natal told a news conference on Saturday.
“It completely took over.”
He said the Delta variant was more transmissible even than the Beta variant.
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said it was likely that the peak of the third wave would surpass that of the second wave, adding that the restrictions in Gauteng were not effective.
She said all measures would have to be taken to contain the spread.
Kubayi-Ngubane called on South Africans to adhere to strict health protocols.