Hard lockdown on the cards? Ramaphosa says it depends on the severity of the third wave

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Siya Duda/GCIS

The severity of a Covid-19 third wave, if it happens, would determine whether SA moves to a harder lockdown level. 

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who spoke to international media on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa was in Paris, France, where he attended the summit for the financing of African economies amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The summit was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Speaking to France24, Ramaphosa said South Africa was ready for the third wave, should it come. 

“We’ve been seeing the emergence of what we think could be a third wave coming through,” he said. 

“We are watching it very closely. If it comes, we are ready. We are gearing up a whole number of measures. The issue of a lockdown is something that will only be looked at, depending on the severity of the third wave.”

Ramaphosa did not reveal which measures would be put in place. 

Watch the video from the 10:00 mark

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), SA has not met the threshold for a new wave. 

The institute's acting executive director, Prof Adrian Puren, said last week that while SA has not yet crossed the national threshold for a new wave, the country could reach this point in the coming weeks. 

The NICD said the Free State was the only province experiencing a third wave, while Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and the Western Cape were showing sustained increases.

The Northern Cape is experiencing a significant resurgence in Covid-19 cases. 

Limpopo and the Eastern Cape are the only two provinces not at risk of a third wave at present.

Proposed measures

This week, the SA Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) proposed 10 measures for the government to avoid a complete ban.

The measures include restricting access to alcohol, banning all alcohol advertisements except at point of sale, banning special reduced price offers for alcoholic beverages, and reducing the number of people at gatherings to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.

Saapa said  government should not wait until the health system becomes overburdened before restrictions are introduced.

“Alcohol consumption should not aggravate the predicted impact of the third wave,” said Maurice Smithers, director of the alliance.

“We have seen the additional burden on the healthcare system caused by trauma cases related to harmful drinking, through car crashes, incidents of interpersonal violence and gender-based violence.

“Also, when people consume alcohol, their ability to adhere to Covid-19 protocols can be diminished and contribute to the spreading of the virus.”