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President Ramaphosa could introduce a multiple-stage Covid-19 alert system

Published Apr 23, 2020


CAPE TOWN - South Africa could adopt a multiple-stage alert system to manage Covid-19 lockdown going forward.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa readies himself to address the nation on how the country will proceed in dealing with the deadly pandemic. Speculation is rife that Ramaphosa will ease some lockdown regulations in a bid to strike balance between economic and human survival - a seminal moment in the countries response to the virus.

A leaked document purported to be from a government think-tank suggests that the easing of lockdown regulations could come with an alert system with levels of restriction.

The document suggests the lockdown has mitigated the spread of Covid-19 and that there would be a massive risk in undoing this by “lifting lockdown restrictions too soon, or in an unsystematic and disorderly manner”.

It goes on to provide evidence from the Spanish Influenza pandemic in 1918 arguing that cities with temporary restrictions on economic activity experience reduced infection rates.

This suggests South Africa’s direction regarding lifting lockdown regulations will not be a binary decision. It will be tightened and loosened depending on infection data, therefore allowing and restricting certain businesses to run. The alert system will communicate this tightening and losing of lockdown regulations, much like Eskom’s system regarding the amount of electricity supply to determine the severity of load shedding stages.

Alert system with levels of restriction

Five levels of restriction, which will eliminate the need to amend regulations in the future - it will cover all possible scenarios.

Businesses will know if they are able to operate depending on the level.

A level system will be easily communicated to all.

Gradual transitions between levels will be used when necessary.

Each level will have certain health protocols attached to it.

Possible for different provinces and areas within the province to have different levels - be sure to check your own specific area and province, all will not be the same.

The breakdown

Level 1: Low virus spread and therefore high capacity for the health system to combat.

Level 2: Moderate virus spread and high capacity for the health system.

Level 3: Moderate virus spread, however, with moderate capacity.

Level 4: Moderate to high virus spread with low to moderate health system capacity.

Level 5: High virus spread and low capacity health capacity.

Criteria for businesses to operate:

Risk of transmission and the ability to implement mitigation measures.

Expected impact on the sector if lockdown continues. This includes retrenchment probability and company failures.

The value of the sector to the economy which concerns its contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP)

The document goes on to state the importance of South African lives over the economy. If there’s a high risk, businesses will not be allowed to operate irrespective of the potential impact of suspending their services.

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