The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the further easing of COVD-19 restrictions.
Chairperson of the SAMA, Dr Angelique Coetzee, also echoed the President’s sentiments that everything must be done to prevent a resurgence of infections.
“The easing of restrictions is good news for the economy and we share the President’s view that the country is shifting from relief to recovery.
“As medical professionals we also want to reiterate the president’s message that the Coronavirus pandemic is not yet over, and that measures to prevent the spread of the disease must still be strictly adhered to,” said Dr Coetzee.
The association’s comments follow on President Cyril Rampahosa’s address to the nation on Wednesday night.
In the address on the country’s COVID-19 status, the President announced the amendment of alert level 1 regulations to restore the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol at retail outlets.
Dr Coetzee said it is vital that citizens understand that attending gatherings or visiting places such as shebeens and taverns where people do not wear masks carries a risk and should be avoided.
She said the concession to allow for normal liquor sales is a good move and may ease the need for people to visit these outlets, specifically at weekends.
Dr Coetzee said that while the spread of the virus has declined over the past two months, this should not be seen as an eradication of the virus from society.
“Our numbers may look good and this is a promising development, but we must remain alert and continue to wear masks over our noses and mouths, practice regular hand washing and sanitising, and continue with physical distancing.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking everything has been dealt with and that we can go on as before March 26,” she said.
SAMA is of the view that South Africa is now better prepared to deal with the outbreak than before.
It said the easing of international travel restrictions can be managed successfully by utilising rapid tests at points of entry to the country and that, essentially, this too is a good move particularly as it will provide a much-needed financial shot in the arm for the local tourism sector.
“Ultimately the easing of the restrictions will benefit our economy and people negatively affected by the pandemic.
“Given that we have made significant progress from a medical point of view in dealing with infections we support the easing of the restrictions as we believe there is more to gain from doing this than from keeping them in place,” Dr Coetzee said.
This as the President also announced the relaxation of travel restrictions in line with rapid testing and strict monitoring intended to limit the spread of the infection through importation by those who will be travelling to South Africa.