Cape Town – South Africa is set to remain on the adjusted level 3 lockdown, with the curfew hours now changed from 9pm to 5am and the country's ports of entry being closed until February 15, with a few exceptions being made.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night on the latest efforts by his administration to fight the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic. His address also comes almost three weeks after he had announced the adjusted lockdown regulations.
According to Ramaphosa, the decision to retain the current lockown level follows extensive consultations with religious, traditional, community and provincial leaders as well as the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Ramaphosa pointed out that since his last address on December 28, SA has recorded more than 1.2 million Covid-19 cases, 33 000 deaths and with thousands of people being admitted to the country's hospitals.
"The province that has recorded the highest number of cases over the last seven days is KwaZulu-Natal, followed by the Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
"Infections in Gauteng are growing exponentially," Ramaphosa said, adding that the increase is attributed to more residents in Gauteng returning home following the festive holiday.
He pointed out that although there are new infections, cases in the Eastern Cape were much lower than they were in the middle of December.
Ramaphosa further added that as it stands, a third of patients in hospitals were on oxygen, with the public healthcare system is under immense pressure.
While the country remains under adjusted level 3, the sale, distribution and transportation of alcohol remains prohibited. Funerals are also limited to a total of 50 people.
On funerals, Ramaphosa said: "We are in a grip of a deadly pandemic and all those activities that would normally take place are just increasing our exposure to risk. Many people keep repeating and reporting that many of those who those passing away were infected at funerals.
’’Let us pay heed to this... Funerals have become a death trap for many of our people. For now, it's best to stay safe and to stay at home."
Meanwhile, the Ramaphosa has emphasised that his administration is working on ensuring that 20 million doses of vaccines are administered in the first quarter of this year.
He warned, however, that the vaccine programme will be much more expensive than the HIV treatment programme and cautioned against fake news advocating for communities not to accept the vaccines.
"Everybody wants to know when the vaccine will be coming... We are doing and will continue to do everything that is possible to ensure the process is both transparent and handled most effectively and efficiently and that information is made available to South Africans."