Calls for govt to tighten lockdown restrictions amid spike in COVID-19 cases

On Sunday, the nation marked another pandemic milestone with more than one million South Africans having contracted the virus since it first emerged in March.

FILE: A City of Tshwane Health official takes a nasal swab to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus on a taxi operator at the Bloed Street Mall in Pretoria Central Business District, on 11 June 2020. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN – There are growing calls to increase COVID-19 restrictions as infection numbers continue to accelerate.

On Sunday, the nation marked another pandemic milestone with more than one million South Africans having contracted the virus since it first emerged in March.

ALSO READ: SAMA wants the country back under level 2 lockdown

There have been numerous warnings from the Department of Health about the rapidly rising infection rate, and over the weekend, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) met to assess the situation and decide how to proceed.

Professor Adrian Puren from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the four provinces that most concern them remained the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal.

“There is some evidence even though there are still large numbers of cases. In fact, the Eastern Cape is probably reached its peak, and I think there is also evidence to a certain degree in the Western Cape that they may well reach their peak. Whereas I think KZN and Gauteng are still on an upward trajectory."

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) called for the whole country to go back to level 2 of the lockdown, with a tightening of restrictions on gatherings.

“Moving to level 2 lockdown has certain advantages; it has a 10 pm curfew, it stipulates a maximum of 50 people at gatherings and only 10 people at social gatherings in people’s homes. But it’s not enough to decrease alcohol trauma, which is putting pressure on hospitals at the moment and we should consider suspending on-premises liquor sales until 3 January,” said SAMA’s Charles Parry.

The NCCC will have to balance ever-accelerating infection loads with the need to protect a battered economy.

And liquor traders have begged government not to lock down their sector again.

The Liquor Traders Association’s Lucky Ntimane said they wanted government to talk to them before they made any sudden moves.

“We understand the situation that the country finds itself in, and are alive to the fact that the president and his government have tough decisions to make in the coming days and as citizens of the country we will support government initiatives to tackle COVID-19,” Ntimane said in a statement.

“It is however our belief that any decision that affects our industry should be discussed with us beforehand and our inputs considered before any decision is communicated to the general public,” he added.

Meanwhile, medical professionals agree restricting alcohol does have an effect, specifically because it cuts down on the number of alcohol-related trauma cases they have to attend to, which are cases that are avoidable and divert their attention from dealing with the pandemic.

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