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State of disaster has been extended until March 15 — here’s why

Health minister Joe Phaahla says government needs to have effective measures in place before lifting the state of disaster.
Health minister Joe Phaahla says government needs to have effective measures in place before lifting the state of disaster.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

SA cannot end the state of disaster until it has enough measures in place to handle future waves of Covid-19 infections, health minister Joe Phaahla said on Monday. 

Phaahla cautioned that while SA is exiting the fourth wave and there is improved understanding of the coronavirus, the pandemic was far from over. He said government should not be pressured into ending the state of disaster. 

“As we are exiting the fourth wave of infections, everyone is eager for the pandemic to come to an end. The reality, however, is that while we have learned more about the virus, we have more weapons and the virus is seemingly getting weaker, the war is far from over,” Phaahla said during the state of the nation address (Sona) debate. 

His response came after co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma extended the state of disaster by another month.

Her department said it decided on an extension after a cabinet meeting in which it determined the extent to which the management of the Covid-19 pandemic required the implementation of the national state of disaster. 

It said government had observed from other countries that lifting all restrictions can lead to a rise in infections, and urged South Africans to continue to adhere to non-pharmaceutical safety measures such mask wearing, hand washing and observing social distancing. 

Under the current regulations, nearly all economic and social restrictions have been lifted and civil liberties are unrestricted. The country and the rest of the world are entering a new phase of the pandemic that requires us to live with the virus. As we begin this period of readjustment, we should all be guided by the regulations,” said the department.

During the Sona last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said government planned to end the state of disaster “soon.”

He urged South Africans to get vaccinated as this was the only defence available against the pandemic. 

“We are ready to enter a new phase in our management of the pandemic.

“It is our intention to end the national state of disaster as soon as we have finalised other measures under the National Health Act and other legislation to contain the pandemic,” said Ramaphosa. 


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