President Cyril Ramaphosa, and sign language interpreter Andiswa Gebashe speaking during a national address from the Union Buildings. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa, and sign language interpreter Andiswa Gebashe speaking during a national address from the Union Buildings. Picture: GCIS

Level 1 lockdown: Ramaphosa to address the nation at 7pm

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Sep 16, 2020

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Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation on Wednesday night at 7pm, the presidency said on Wednesday morning.

He is expected to announce level 1 of the lockdown, which will see more industries reopen.

This comes as South Africa’s Covid-19 infections have dropped substantially during level 2 of the lockdown, which was enforced about a month ago.

As at Tuesday night, South Africa had recorded just over 650 000 infections since April, with over 15 641 deaths – including 142 new deaths confirmed.

The total Covid-19 recoveries in the country stood at 583 126, with 772 new infections reported on Tuesday.

In a statement, the presidency said Ramaphosa would address the country on “developments in South Africa’s risk-adjusted response to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Tyrone Seale, Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson, said the president had chaired a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council on Monday and a special sitting of the Cabinet on Wednesday.

“The president’s co-ordinating council is co-chaired by the president and the deputy president and brings together ministers, premiers and leadership of the South African Local Government Association and National House of Traditional Leaders.

“The president’s address will be broadcast and streamed on a range of platforms that are accessible to South Africans and international audiences,” said Seale.

Meanwhile, scientists have backed plans to ease the lockdown to level 1, but have called on South Africans to remain vigilant and to continue wearing masks.

The Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee chairperson, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, told the Cape Times that the country’s behavioural choices would decide what happened next.

“When we ease the restrictions, our behavioural choices will impact on all South Africans. Our continued use of prevention measures will be key in preventing community transmission,” Abdool Karim said.

“The declining number of cases is not a time for complacency as we enter a new normal. We also need to make informed choices to avoid placing ourselves in risky situations such as mass gatherings that could become super-spreading events.

“To reduce our risk of a second surge we must continue to wear our masks, practice social distancing and regular hand washing,” he said.

Vaccinologist Professor Shabir Madhi, the executive director of the vaccines and infectious diseases analytics research unit at the University of Witwatersrand, told the Saturday Star that Gauteng could have reached herd immunity without even knowing it.

“Once you get a high proportion of the population infected and together with the use of the non-pharmaceutical intervention like the wearing of masks, and physical distancing, what happens is herd immunity kicks in,” explains Madhi.

“This where a large enough percentage of the population has now developed immunity against the virus. So the virus is no longer able to transmit efficiently between people.”

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