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Covid-19: curfew lifted in South Africa

Covid-19: curfew lifted in South Africa

At the start of this southern summer, the news from South Africa concerning the coronavirus epidemic is rather good. The country, which saw the appearance of the Omicron variant at the same time as in Botswana a little over a month ago, is now seeing a decrease in new contaminations. To the point that, on the eve of New Year’s Eve, the authorities decided to lift the curfew applied from midnight to 4 am for a year. However, gatherings remain limited to 1,000 people indoors and twice as many outdoors. The wearing of a mask in public spaces is also maintained.“A marginal increase in the number of deaths was observed in all provinces”, the presidency said in a statement, believing that “all indicators suggest the country is likely past the peak of the fourth wave”.

With a little less 90,000 contaminations in one week, the decrease is 30% compared to the previous week. By mid-December, the omicron variant, here too, was wreaking havoc, causing 26,000 new cases a day. A yoyo movement that surprises health professionals across the country. “The rate at which the fourth wave from Omicron rose, peaked, and then declined was astounding. A peak in four weeks and a precipitous decline in two weeks,” said Fareed Abdullah of the South African Council for Medical Research, quoted by AFP.

Rosemary Anderson, President of the South African Hotel Federation (Fedhasa), congratulates himself the lifting of the curfew, a measure that can only help a sector in difficulty. “We are also dealing with a new variant, which has not clinically resulted in more hospitalizations, serious illness and death caused compared to the old variants.” Rosemary Anderson is also asking the government to reassess other measures such as containment and quarantine of contact cases.

The Prime Minister of the Western Cape Province Alan Winde also welcomed the measure which, according to him, is in line with the level of the pandemic. In the province, he said, the risk of admission is 30% lower than the previous wave and it is even 60% lower for severe cases.

The state of health emergency applied since March 2020 remains in place, however. In particular, it allows the executive to dispense with Parliament’s consent to introduce new regulations. To those who demand its repeal, the presidency reminded that it was still too early to separate “a tool that allows us to intervene in the event of an unforeseen situation related to Covid.” With 91,000 deaths and nearly 3.5 million cases, South Africa remains the most affected country in Africa.

Clearly, the good (or less bad) news should not obscure the “fundamentals”: vaccination first and respect for barrier gestures.

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