President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the national state of disaster will be extended by another month to 15 December.
In his address on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa criticised the behaviour of many South Africans since the beginning of Lockdown Level 1, as the country has recorded a total of 20,011 deaths since the pandemic hit local shores.
The national state of disaster was due to lapse on Sunday following a one month extension in October by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The state of national disaster was declared by government on 15 March under Section 27 (1) and (2) of the Disaster Management Act, in an attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19.
It has been 230 days since the initial hard lockdown began.
Ramaphosa announced the following changes:
- The national state of disaster will be extended by another month to 15 December
- The UIF/Ters benefit has been extended by another month to October 15
- The special Covid-19 Grant has been extended for a further three months, until January 2021
- Trading hours for alcohol sales will return to normal, which includes weekends
- International travel that has been opened to all countries subject to Covid-19 regulations, including the presentation of a negative Covid-19 certificate
- Government will be expanding community screening and testing in hotspots areas
- From 25 to 29 November, the nation will embark on five days of mourning for the victims of Covid-19
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“We will let the national flag fly at half-mast throughout the country from 6am to 6pm from Wednesday 25 November to Sunday 29 November,” said Ramaphosa.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is worsening across the globe. The problem is that people seem to have forgotten that Covid-19 is still around us. It is far from over and will remain with us for some to time. We have endured what we hope is the worst. For more than two months the cases have remained below 2,000 a day. The total number of hospital admissions has declined for the 14th consecutive week,” he said.
“We must do everything that we can to prevent a resurgence of infections and there must be a few areas that we must focus on. The Eastern Cape is showing signs of a resurgence after recording a higher number of deaths and infections in the past two weeks.
“With many people moving between the Eastern Cape and other provinces – particularly the Western Cape – it is a matter of time before this surge spreads to other parts of the country.”
“The Eastern Cape should serve as a wakeup call that we cannot relax and be complacent about our approach to Covid-19,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said there was a resurgence plan in place that was developed in partnership with the medical team team deployed to South Africa by the World Health Organisation.
Interventions include primary health care outreach teams to intensify contact tracing, daily community mobilisation, ensuring the readiness of health facilities, and being ready to respond to possible clusters outbreaks.
“We will be working closely with the provincial government, municipalities and other institutions in the Eastern Cape in the coming days and weeks to ensure that this surge is contained and managed,” said Ramaphosa.
As the festive season approaches, the president has cautioned against ignoring Covid-19 health regulations and guidelines.
He encouraged South Africans to avoid large gatherings, to wear masks, to maintain social distance and to ensure proper hygiene is maintained.
“Wearing masks is better than a hard lockdown or getting infected with Covid-19,” he said.
Ramaphosa further announced that trading hours for alcohol sales will return to normal licensed trading hours, which includes weekends, along with international travel that has been opened to all countries subject to Covid-19 regulations.
The UIF/Ters benefit has also been extended by another month to October 15, along with Covid-19 unemployment grants that have been extended to January 2021.