Tuesday, 14 December 2021 21:18

SA records 23,884 new infections bringing total cases to 3,204,642.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 23,884 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,204,642. This increase represents a 34.9% positivity rate.

The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (36%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (22%). Western Cape accounted for 13%; Eastern Cape accounted for 7%; Free State and North West each accounted for 6% respectively; Mpumalanga accounted for 5%; Limpopo accounted for 3%; and Northern Cape accounted for 1% of today’s new cases.

The proportion of positive new cases/total new tested today is 34,9% which is higher than yesterday (31,0%). The 7-day average is 27,2% today, which is higher than yesterday (25,8 %).

NICD said a further 24 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 90,172 to date. 

Meanwhile the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) has warned the government against the introduction of new alcohol restrictions as a response to the country’s fourth Covid-19 wave.

Deputy president David Mabuza is expected to hold meetings with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Tuesday (14 December) to discuss possible government interventions around the rise in cases driven by the Omicron variant.

The CGCSA said it acknowledges the government intention of striking a balance between protecting and saving lives and livelihoods and minimising disruptions to economic and social activity.

However, it cautioned any measures which affect or restrict the sale of liquor products, particularly for off-site consumption, will not only be discriminatory and uncompetitive but will worsen the already precarious viability of affected traders and put jobs at risk.

The CGCSA is particularly concerned of restrictions that may be targeted at the liquor sector. Evidence has shown that liquor restrictions have not been effective in managing the rise in Covid-19 cases,” it said.

"The CGCSA has in the past been against applying a differentiated approach to restricting liquor sales by allowing those selling for onsite consumption to trade for seven days a week, while restricting the number of trading days for those selling for offsite consumption."

The trade body said that many liquor operators are on the verge of closure as a result of the impact of previous restrictions, while others may never fully recover to pre-lockdown levels.

In previous restrictions, the off-site retail liquor sector has been allowed to trade for a limited period in a week, typically between Monday to Thursday, while those selling liquor for on-site consumption have continued to trade even throughout the weekend.

This has made it virtually impossible for small businesses operating in townships, rural and informal areas, to survive when they are expected to pay rent, levies and wages, yet only trading for four days a week, the group said.

"As the government considers its next response to the Omicron variant, we wish to reiterate that there is no need to restrict trading in the liquor sector, specifically because the differentiated approach has always been uncompetitive and has merely resulted in unintended consequences of putting the viability of the affected traders at risk, and driving trade into the entrenched illicit market which the government is already struggling to control."

The CGCSA said retail sales for off-site consumption which account for only 30% of the total liquor throughput, are primarily for home consumption, and not for consumption at the time of purchase.

In our view, the restriction of retail liquor sales imposed in the past has not achieved the objective of avoiding disorder or containing Covid-19 at the point of purchase.  Nor has it had any effect in terms of reducing consumption, as opposed to purchases made during weekends."

Turning to the fourth wave, CGCSA said current indications show that the Omicron variant is demonstrating milder symptoms compared to the previous Delta variant, whose severe complications led to an increase in infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths.