During an address to the nation last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned citizens that the country was experiencing a large-scale increase in Covid-9 infections.
“There is now clear evidence of a resurgence of infections in parts of our own country which, if not confronted decisively and directly, could lead to great suffering and death,” he said.
In the Eastern Cape, Ramaphosa singled out the Sarah Baartman District and Nelson Mandela Bay as being infection hotspots.
“There are a number of reasons for the rise in transmissions. People are travelling between provinces and within each province in higher numbers, especially with the festive season approaching.
“Social, cultural and religious gatherings are being held in large numbers. In many cases, these gatherings are being attended by many more people than what is permitted under level 1 restrictions.
“What is concerning is that these are also being held in venues with poor ventilation. This is particularly the case for funerals, which are often followed by large ‘after-tears’ parties,” Ramaphosa said.
“But by far the greatest contributing cause of infections is that many people are not wearing masks and are not observing proper hygiene and social distancing. Our main problem is that there are parts of the country where people are not complying with the restrictions and basic prevention measures are not followed.”
Ramaphosa said that the government was taking urgent steps to combat the rise in infections.
“We are putting into motion the resurgence plan that we developed with the World Health Organisation’s surge team. We are making more capacity available at hospitals and clinics in these areas. We are expanding public health interventions such as testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. We are also stepping up our awareness campaigns around public health regulations,” he said.
The president announced that the National State of Disaster had been extended to January 15 2021 and that police would be increasing efforts to enforce health and safety restrictions.
“We have instructed law enforcement officials to ensure compliance with the law by owners, controllers and managers of workplaces, shops, institutions and buildings to ensure social distancing and wearing of masks,” he said.
“For the safety of all of us, those who break the rules must face consequences.”
With the festive holidays just around the corner, Ramaphosa urged residents to remain cautious.
“We must remember that as much as we want to relax, this virus does not take a holiday.
“Unless we take personal responsibility for our health and the health of others, more people are going to become infected [and] more people are going to die.”