The Government of South Africa has reportedly relaxed nation-wide COVID-19 restrictions as the number of cases continue to record a significant fall in the country where the omicron variant was first identified last year in November.
Health experts believe the country has entered a phase of low transmission as cases of severe illness and deaths related to coronavirus have dropped in recent weeks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised speech that South Africa will be changing its way of handling the pandemic, and learn to live with the virus.
Ramaphosa stated that the country will be further opening its economy and also resuming many of the social and cultural activities that were missed since the start of the pandemic.
The relaxation, which will take place from Wednesday, 23rd March, would mean that wearing masks will no longer be required outdoors and vaccinated travelers can enter the country without carrying a negative PCR test report.
Under the new rules, sports stadiums and musical venues will be allowed to open at 50% of their total capacity, with entry given to vaccinated people or those carrying a negative PCR test.
Other countries where Covid restrictions have been lifted include Pakistan, reporting zero deaths related to the virus on Wednesday, 23rd March, and the Netherlands, seeing a stable hospitalization rate in the country.
While wearing masks on public transport, mandatory testing for entering nightclubs, and organizing large events with fixed seats will no longer be mandatory in the country, masks will be required at airports under international agreements.
Meanwhile, in China’s most populous city, Shanghai, 981 cases of COVID-19 infections, its highest ever, have been reported within 24 hours, with the government issuing a stay-at-home order and implementing targeted residential lockdown to curb the spread.
Worried citizens have been rushing to stock up on food from online grocery stores as they fear that a lockdown may be announced soon as local authorities warn against causing panic amongst people by believing or spreading any malicious rumors.
China is currently having its worst outbreak since the pandemic began in 2020.