The question of whether South Africa will face a stricter Covid-19 lockdown, with bans on alcohol during the festive season, remains to be seen as the NCCC gears up to meet this weekend.
But a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Sunday 28 November to assess Covid-19 pandemic “developments” does not sound like good news lies ahead.
Minister in the presidency, Mondli Gungubele, confirmed on Friday that President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene an NCCC meeting to “assess developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, including scientific updates around the newly detected coronavirus variant”.
“Government urges South Africans to remain vigilant against Covid-19 and play their part in protecting themselves and the broader community by having themselves vaccinated, while scientists investigate a newly identified coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529,” Gungubele said.
He said that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ (NICD) identification of a new coronavirus variant demonstrated South Africa’s constant vigilance and scientific capability in its management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The NICD is in intensive engagement with all established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. While this work continues, South Africans must take all measures to protect themselves against coronavirus infection, beginning with vaccination against COVID-19,” he said.
“Alongside vaccination, the wearing of face masks, frequent washing or sanitation of hands, keeping a social distance and the avoidance of gatherings remain a proven, effective means of stopping or slowing the spread of coronavirus infection. The virus has not been eradicated and vaccination protects us from serious illness, hospitalisation or death,” he added.
He said vaccination was free to all people living in South Africa, and anyone aged 12 years and older was encouraged to get vaccinated.
Gungubele’s confirmation of the upcoming NCCC gathering followed rumours that a meeting was imminent this weekend and that a presidential address to the nation would follow on Monday or Tuesday night.
“The National Coronavirus Command Council is one of several structures of government, which include the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet, where scientific evidence and submissions by different economic and social sectors inform executive decision-making,” he said.
“Government works together closely with social partners to ensure that a balance is maintained between protecting and saving lives, and enabling people to earn a living and making it possible for the broader economy to recover and grow. The outcomes of the NCCC discussions and further consultations will be communicated in the coming days,” he said.
“Government urges all South Africans to vaccinate and to remain disciplined in applying the known safety measures, to ensure a safe and joyful festive season with families and friends,” Gungubele said.