By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will reportedly meet this week, as South Africa continues to see record daily Covid-19 infections, rapidly approaching the 1 million confirmed cases.
As of 26 December, South Africa has reported a total of 994,911 Covid-19 cases, falling just short of the 1 million mark. There were 11,522 new daily cases reported, after two record increases of over 14,000 cases on Thursday and Friday this week.
There were also 256 new deaths, taking the total to 26,521, while recoveries are now at 839,194, leaving the country with a balance of 129,196 active cases.
The surge in cases has been driven by more gatherings over the festive season, as well as a more transmissible variant of the virus that has been discovered in South Africa.
According to the Sunday Times, citing a government insider, President Cyril Ramaphosa will recall cabinet ministers from their holidays to hold an urgent meeting on Tuesday (29 December) to address the crisis.
While it is not yet clear what restrictions will be modified at the meeting, a review could see:
- Lowering the limits on the number of people allowed at gatherings;
- Restrictions on movement;
- Closing of borders;
- Restrictions on the trade of alcohol.
Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane also warned that restaurants could face more restrictions if they do not adhere to the current lockdown regulations, the paper said.
The NCCC meeting follows an alert from health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday (23 December), that lockdown restrictions would have to be reviewed to combat the alarming surge seen in the second wave of the virus.
Mkhize said that the coronavirus has continued to spread exponentially and that the rate of spread is much faster than the first wave.
"We must warn South Africans that we will need to review the current restrictions and consider further measures to ensure that we curb this alarming rate of spread," he said.
Mkhize said that all provinces, with the exception of the Eastern Cape, continued to report an increase in their number of cases. KZN, the Western Cape, and Gauteng reported the largest increase in cases – comprising 81% of the total new cases reported.
Therefore it will be important for us to evaluate the situation, identify hotspots in these areas and make recommendations based on these findings and the outcomes of what has been implemented in the hotspots that have been identified so far, "Mkhize said.
Hospitals, both private and public, are reporting that they are filling up quickly, with some already at capacity. Making matters worse, is that a lot of hospitals are operating on thinner staff due to the holiday period – who will now bear the brunt of the second wave.