Covid-19 round-up: Ending of State of Disaster, fifth wave looms and easing of restrictions

In Covid-19-related news this week, government contemplate ending the State of Disaster, Discovery chief executive Adrian Gore says the fifth wave could arrive at the end of April and Professor Shabir Madhi said Covid-19 safety measures that no longer serve a purpose should be dropped.

Ending of State of Disaster

Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele said an announcement on the lifting of the national state of disaster will be made soon.

Gungubele said cabinet have acknowledged the country’s efforts towards the fight against Covid-19 but cautioned that the battle is not yet over, and urged all South Africans to remain vigilant and continue protecting themselves to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Government have been in talks over ending the two-year national state of disaster, but have been mum since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise that it would end during the State of the Nation address last month.

“We have made our clear intentions to do away with the Disaster [Management] Act but we have said that we do not want to leave a vacuum because the biggest thing is that this thing is so unpredictable. You must have means in case it comes at an unexpected time,” he said.

Gungubele could not confirm whether Ramaphosa would address the nation on the matter or whether South Africans could expect another extension on March 15.

Fifth wave looming

Meanwhile, Discovery chief executive Adrian Gore said the group will treat the fifth Covid-19 wave with caution despite it “likely to be a lot more benign and less severe compared to previous waves”.

Gore said previous Covid-19 waves have followed similar patterns in terms of duration and time and noted that the fifth wave could arrive in South Africa at the end of April and early May.

Dropping of Covid-19 measures

Professor Shabir Madhi, this week said that Covid-19 safety measures that no longer serve a purpose or never had any impact should be dropped, adding that they have done very little in protecting people from contracting the virus.

“We shouldn’t be wearing face masks at all when outdoors. When indoors, there might be some individuals, especially people that are at high risk of developing disease even if they are vaccinated, that might want to continue wearing the right type of face mask, which is the N95 mask, especially when there’s an increase in the amount of virus that is transmitting,” Madhi said.

Madhi added that hand sanitisation served very little value in protecting against Covid-19 but had a lot of value in protecting against other disease.

Overview

As of March 11, a total of 3 690 291 positive cases had been recorded in South Africa since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the preceding 24 hours, 1 868 new cases and 5 new deaths were reported in the last 24-48 hours. The cumulative death toll was 99 681 while recoveries stood at 3 571 758. The total number of vaccines administered was 32 421 223.


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