Update: Move to Lockdown Level 3 ‘simply not true’ Ramaphosa says

A member of the South African Defence Force stands on a military vehicle during a joint South African Police Service patrol during the national lockdown. Picture: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that an imminent move to Lockdown Level 3 was “simply not true” during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces.

Rumours are running rife on social media the government could initiate another hard lockdown, much like the country experienced during lockdown Level 5 as the Covid-19 infection rate increases. 

However, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Mlungisi Mthsali confirmed to The Citizen these rumours are pure speculation and the department has not been instructed to move to a higher or harder lockdown level. 

“There have been no discussions, unless it’s still coming.” 

President Cyril Ramaphosa later confirmed that an imminent move to Lockdown Level 3 was “simply not true” during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces.

However, he will be studying a new report and said the government has observed some worrying trends.

Ramaphosa said the government continues to analyse and manage the situation with the assistance of the medical advisory committee: “We are seeing some signs that are of concern to us,” he said.

Earlier, Mthsali said as per the plan presented on 25 April, lockdown looked at the number of infections and the state of readiness to deal with infections in terms of hospital infrastructure. 

He said that “a lot of progress has been made since Level 5, 4 and even 3” and he “doesn’t see a likelihood of us moving to a higher level”. 

When asked where the rumours of a stricter lockdown came from, Mthsali said it was likely due to people speculating about the rising number of Covid-19 cases. 

“The numbers are growing but we still have excess (hospital bed) capacity. This lockdown was to get us to this point where we feel there is a balance; that there are infections but also hospitals with spare capacity.” 

“And beyond that, we’ve learnt a lot on how to treat the symptoms of the virus. So it’s really not that.” 

He said he was “no witchdoctor”, but assured that a strict lockdown is not on the cards. 

However, the rumours may have stemmed from KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala’s announcement on Sunday that a hard lockdown was planned for the country, unless the amount of daily Covid-19 cases decreased.

The Premier said the “largely care-free attitude” displayed by some citizens of the province since the move to lockdown alert Level 1 was of concern.

He said despite warning about a possible second wave of Covid-19 infections and deaths, it seemed people had now thrown all caution to the wind – wearing no masks, not sanitising their hands and not maintaining physical distancing.

“If you didn’t know, you’d swear there was no Covid-19 lurking; let alone the fact we are still under a national lockdown.”

 A second wave of infections has gripped some parts of Europe, with hard lockdowns either enforced again, or proposed.

Globally, there are 43.5 million cases of Covid-19, 29.2 million recoveries, and 1.16 million reported deaths. 

South Africa has a total of 716 759 positive cases, 646 721 recoveries, 19 008 total deaths and 891 new cases as of yesterday. 

More than four million Covid-19 tests have been conducted. 

Additional reporting by News24 Wire.

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