President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that he is “deeply worried” about the Covid-19 infection rate in Gauteng and says it might be necessary for the government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to review the lockdown level in the country.
Responding to questions during a visit to the Cape Town Port on Tuesday morning, Ramaphosa said:
He said a balance needed to be struck between keeping the economy open at the expense of people’s lives, and protecting livelihoods.
“The lives of people are extremely important as are their livelihoods,” he said.
Ramaphosa also admitted that infection rates in Gauteng were “much higher than we have seen before”. But some experts thinks that it might be too late to put in place tighter restrictions because the infection rate is expected to peak in two weeks’ time, before it goes down again.
Ramaphosa said Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who admitted that Covid-19 infections in the province were out of control, was “dealing with this challenge as best as he can”, as was Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
He was grateful also for the deployment of military medical personnel in the province.
“I know they’re opening up as many hospital beds as they can.”
He also said ventilators were a challenge but said this was the case in other parts of the world as well.
Ramaphosa said the hard lockdown – which he admitted was “possibly harder than other nations” – at the start of the pandemic “did help bring down infections”, which enabled South Africa to loosen the lockdown measures.
Gauteng has seen Covid-19 cases increase at a rate of 57 percent week on week.
The infection rate is already higher than it was at the peak of the previous two waves. Infections there account for 70 percent of the new cases reported in South Africa on Monday.
The president was also asked about the Western Cape government’s intention to look at ways of acquiring vaccines for the province, but said that the world over, national governments were the “key players”.
Vaccine manufacturers also prefer this, he said, due to the issue of medical liability.