Johannesburg: South Africa will remain on the lowest ‘Level One’ of its five-level lockdown strategy to fight the Covid-19 pandemic despite the global panic around the detection of the Omicron variant in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced .
Ramaphosa also called on more than 20 countries that have imposed travel bans to and from South Africa and its neighbours to immediately end the ban to avoid further harm to the economies of these countries, which have already been battered by the pandemic.“
In taking the decision not to impose further restrictions at this stage, we considered the fact that when we encountered previous waves of infection, vaccines were not widely available and far fewer people were vaccinated,” Ramaphosa said in a national broadcast on Sunday.“That is no longer the case. Vaccines are available to anyone aged 12 and above, free of charge, at thousands of sites across the country. We also know that the coronavirus will be with us for the long term.
We must therefore find ways of managing the pandemic while limiting disruptions to the economy and ensuring continuity,” the president added.
The World Health Organisation on Sunday asked countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the Omicron variant.
WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement.“If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations,” the official said.Commenting on the travel ban, Ramaphosa called for an immediate reversal of the ban.“(The ban) is a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment that many of these countries made at the meeting of G20 countries in Rome last month.”
“They pledged at that meeting to restart international travel in a safe and orderly manner, consistent with the work of relevant international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Maritime Organisation and the OECD,” he said.
“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries. The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic,” he said.
Ramaphosa said there was no scientific justification for keeping these restrictions in place.
South Africa Could Top 10,000 Daily Covid Cases This Week: EpidemiologistJohannesburg
The newly-discovered ‘Omicron’ variant is likely to fuel a surge in South Africa’s coronavirus cases that could see daily infections treble this week, a top epidemiologist warned Monday.Health monitors reported over 2,800 new infections on Sunday, up from a daily average of 500 in the previous week and 275 the week before.”We can expect that higher transmissibility is likely and so we are going to get more cases quickly,” Dr Salim Abdool Karim said at an online health ministry press briefing.”I am expecting we will top over 10,000 cases by the end of the week per day (and) see pressure on hospitals within the next two, three weeks.
“South African scientists announced the new highly-mutated variant on Thursday, blaming it for a sudden rise in infections in Africa’s worst-hit nation.Hospital admissions more than doubled over the past month in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province and the epicentre of the new outbreak, according to official figures.The province has entered a fourth infection wave that is expected to spread to the rest of the country by the end of the year, health officials said.
South Africa has recorded 2.9 million cases and 89,797 deaths, although these figures, proportionate to its population, are still significantly lower than other heavily affected countries, especially in Europe.Health Minister Joe Phaahla said there was “absolutely no need to panic.””We have been here before,” he said, referring to the Beta variant identified in South Africa last December.