2020 protests in Cape Town for government to end lockdown restrictions. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
2020 protests in Cape Town for government to end lockdown restrictions. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Growing calls to scrap lockdown regulations

By Anita Dywaba Time of article published Jan 13, 2022

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Cape Town - Just a month away from marking two years since the National State of Disaster declaration, there have been growing calls for the national government to do away with lockdown regulations. Wits University’s virology professor Shabir Madhi and the Western Cape Government are the latest to join these calls.

In a recent interview, Professor Madhi said that it was irrational for the government to wait for an unlikely eventuality before lifting the current state of disaster, and that based on new evidence on the Omicron variant, the government should consider lifting the lockdown regulations which have been in place, as of today, for 658 days.

“Less than 5% of all of the people that died of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic occurred during this (current) wave, compared to the Delta variant, which was responsible for 50% of all of the total Covid-19 deaths.

“It is improbable, considering what we have experienced with the Omicron wave, that we are going to get other waves that will result in similar numbers (Delta variant) of people that are going to be admitted to hospital and die of the virus. The notion that we need to wait and see tells us that we will need to wait and see for years to come, because there is no guarantee that we will not have another pandemic from a few years to come,” he said.

According to the professor, a large percentage of the South African population has been naturally infected and has subsequently developed protection against the disease.

“Now, do we wait and see till we see whether the next pandemic arrives or does not arrive? And the answer to that is no. The government needs to have more oversight. The parliament, in particular, needs to have more oversight on the type of approach we are taking with Covid-19, moving forward. And it is absolutely essential in multiple facets of our lives to get back to relatively normal lives,” he said.

Prof Madhi also slammed the Department of Education’s continuation of learners attending school on a rotational basis. This is after the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga confirmed on Tuesday that no plans were in place to change the current directives by the department in terms of the Disaster Management Regulations. Madhi called the continuation of these restrictions “unacceptable” and said they were “causing more harm than good”.

The Western Cape Government has also seemingly shared Madhi’s sentiments, claiming that the school’s rotational learning was causing psychological damage to learners, educators, and caregivers.

“On an analysis of all these factors, it is clear that the risks to the future of our youth are far greater than the risks posed by Covid-19. The pandemic has changed over the last two years, and we must now return to a state of normality,” it said.

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