PRETORIA – Despite easing the Covid-19 lockdown regulations and announcing the resumption of international travel, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized that South Africa is at the risk of a massive resurgence of infections as has been seen in other countries across the world.
“Our greatest challenge now – and our most important task – is to ensure that we do not experience a new surge in infections. Several countries around the world have been hit by a ‘second wave’ or a resurgence of infections,” said Ramaphosa.
“A number of these countries had passed the peak of the disease and had seemingly brought the virus under control. Some of them had even lifted most of the restrictions on economic and social activity. In many cases, the second wave has been more severe than the first.”
Several countries have had to re-impose the hard lockdowns, when they experienced the second waves.
Ramaphosa said South Africa’s public health response is now focused on further reducing the transmission of the virus and preparing for that possible resurgence.
“We have now taken a decision to keep increasing coronavirus testing. Due to the decline in new infections and the reduced pressure on our health facilities, we now have sufficient testing capacity to expand the criteria for testing,” said the President.
Among the categories of people we will now be able to test are all those who are admitted to hospital, outpatients with Covid-19 symptoms, and individuals who have been in close contact with confirmed cases whether or not they themselves have symptoms.
“Alongside increased testing, we are improving contact tracing through the deployment of the Covid-19 Alert South Africa mobile phone app and the Covid-19 Connect WhatsApp platform,” he said.
Two months ago, at the height of the Covid-19 storm, South Africa was recording around 12,000 new cases a day. Currently, the country is now recording less than 2,000 cases a day, on average.
The recovery rate has increased to 89 percent.
Demand for hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen and other essential medical requirements has also reduced steadily.
“We have succeeded in overcoming the worst phase of this epidemic while protecting the capacity of our health system,” said Ramaphosa.