Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that it is vitally important for South Africa to deal with Covid-19 hotspots as they appear – because the country cannot afford to re-enter the lockdown. In a briefing on Thursday (5 November), Winde said that he was concerned that a number of European territories had re-entered lockdown – especially countries such as Germany which had previously been seen as a leading example in its Covid-19 response. “We have to avert this, we have to ensure that we don’t go into a further lockdown (as) South Africa cannot afford it. Our economy cannot afford it, we are getting poorer, we are losing jobs and we need to recover now.”
According to Winde the country’s economy can only recover and begin to claw back jobs if it continually makes the management of Covid-19 a ‘habit’, and understanding risk areas. “If we get things right then we can avert that second wave and can focus our energy on recovery instead of spending too much time on managing and preparing for a second-wave (of Covid-19 cases).”
President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to brief the nation next week on South Africa’s lockdown strategy around the coronavirus pandemic and concerns that a stricter lockdown will be imposed is no longer considered as unsubstantiated. Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu on Thursday (5 November) said that the briefing will be based on a cabinet meeting and suggestions provided by the National Coronavirus Command Council which are to be held later this week.
Mthembu said that the cabinet was concerned that South Africans have grown increasingly indifferent in their response to the pandemic and are no longer following lockdown regulations. “Cabinet is concerned that some people are behaving recklessly and irresponsibly as if Covid-19 no longer exists. Cabinet calls on all people in South Africa to continue adhering to the health protocols of practising social distancing, wearing masks in public and washing our hands with water and soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser, and avoid large gatherings.”
Thsonono Buyeye, the acting executive mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, said that the reintroduction of a hard lockdown in the metro, while not ideal, may need to be considered to help save lives. “A harder lockdown is not ideal, but to save lives the option might need to be explored again as the numbers are increasing rapidly. In just one day this week, we had close to 400 new infections. Unfortunately, the infections go with deaths and we have seen the deaths in the country have surpassed the 19,000 mark,” he said.
KwaZulu Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said that a return to a hard lockdown is on the cards, unless the country sees a decline in the number of daily coronavirus cases. “Looking at the statistics, we can now safely say that we are definitely going back into a hard lockdown if there is no urgent and drastic change in behaviour,” the premier said.