Monday, 18 January, 2021


South Africa closes borders amid rising coronavirus cases

In eye of storm: S Africa closes borders amid rising cases Ramaphosa extends level 3 lockdown in South Africa
Bennie Garza | 12 January, 2021, 10:30

Even as South Africa's recorded Covid-19 infections, deaths and hospitalisations are at their highest since the first recorded case here in March a year ago - and even as the new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly than the original one - government on Monday made no effort to rein in economic activity further.

The country is now at an adjusted level three lockdown.

"The number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths is higher now than it has ever been since the first case was recorded in our country in March 2020".

Ramaphosa, however, listed the exemptions, such as transporting fuel and cargo, emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition, return to South Africa by its citizens or others with valid visas and departure of foreign nationals.

One important change is that the 20 land ports that are now open for entry will be closed, with certain exceptions that will be detailed further in regulations.

"If anything, the new variant means we must be more vigilant and diligent", Ramaphosa said.

Twenty land border posts will be closed to most travelers until February 15, public gatherings other than funerals won't be allowed, and a nationwide curfew will be enforced from 9 p.m.to 5 a.m., he said.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings will not be permitted including social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds. The country plans to reach 16 million people at this stage. "We are now in the centre of that storm", Ramaphosa said.

With a series of consultations behind him this past week - including within the ANC and its alliance partners - Ramaphosa could give a more extensive update on South Africa's efforts to acquire a vaccine. As the chair of the African Union, we initiated the establishment of an African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to source vaccine doses for the continent.

Ramaphosa explained that the strategy will then identify priority groups that need to be vaccinated as vaccine doses are received throughout the year.

Phase 2- When more vaccines arrive, South Africa will prioritize essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers, and other frontline personnel. "We will also prioritise people in institutions like old age homes, shelters and prisons, people over 60 years of age and adults with co-morbidities".

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