Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Call for tighter restrictions as Covid-19 numbers rise

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Jun 15, 2021

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Johannesburg - Social gatherings and lack of restraint from South Africans to adhere to the lockdown restrictions have added to the worrying surge in Covid-19 cases, with the head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), Professor Koleka Mlisana, calling for tighter restrictions.

Mlisana, who took over from Professor Salim Abdool Karim at the helm of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, said she was concerned about the steep increase in cases.

“If we really don’t manage, it will spill over to the health-care facilities which we cannot have right now.

“At an individual level, people are not adhering to the regulations of social distancing and not wearing masks. We need to be accountable citizens,” she said.

Mlisana also called for more discussions around the sale of alcohol.

“I know there are always concerns about liquor, so there definitely has to be close interactions and discussions about that. We definitely have to get into stricter restrictions right now otherwise we will end up with a caving health-care system,” Mlisana said.

Lucky Ntimane, the convener of the National Liquor Traders Council, said they were also concerned about the citizens’ disregard for protocols but hoped the government would discuss a way forward before banning liquor.

He said the industry could not afford another alcohol ban after the National Coronavirus Command Council imposed liquor bans three times last year.

“Even with the third wave intensifying and cases of Covid-19 on the rise, it’s clear that the government’s warnings have fallen on deaf ears and there’s no reason to believe that harsher restrictions will make any difference. Instead of talking down to people the way the government has been doing, we need to mobilise the whole of society to defeat this virus,” Ntimane said.

“We should heed the lessons of the HIV/Aids pandemic which taught us that communication and empowering people to make the right decisions for themselves is far more effective than trying to police their behaviour.”

In a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa dated May 23, Ntimane said they would like to find sustainable solutions and support government efforts to combat the pandemic in every way possible.

He said Ramaphosa and his team should rather engage liquor traders, especially where any decisions were taken that could have an impact on their businesses and to ensure that any decisions taken were guided by scientific evidence.

“There is no doubt that as a country, one of the most important lessons that we have learnt from our past experiences of dealing with the pandemic, is that we can still fight Covid-19 with a less negative impact on our economy.

“In our case, liquor traders can continue to operate, subject to fully complying with safe operating standards, in a way that was not always possible previously,” he said.

As Covid-19 infections rise in Gauteng, the member of the portfolio committee on health believe that the continued unavailability of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital would have a negative impact on the ability of the Gauteng public health system to manage the third wave of Covid-19 infections.

The committee, that conducted an oversight visit to Gauteng, said it would be “practically impossible” for the province to manage the third wave without the more than 1000 beds, which are inclusive of 124 Intensive Care Unit beds at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital,“ said Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the committee chairperson.

“This matter needs urgent attention and we have committed, as the Portfolio Committee, to engage national ministers to see how they can assist to ensure that the facility is ready and available to assist in the management of the third wave.”

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Political Bureau

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