South Africa further extends restrictions amid spike in COVID-19 cases

South Africa further extends restrictions amid spike in COVID-19 cases

South Africa has reportedly tightened COVID-19 restrictions for another 14 days, which includes a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., a ban on public gatherings and a prohibition on the sale of alcohol. Sources claim that South Africa is the worst hit country on the African continent in regards to COVID cases and deaths and is currently seeing a third wave of infections led by the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.

Talking about the current situation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation that the country's health system remains under pressure.

Previously, Ramaphosa had imposed the fourth level of a five-tier restriction scale as infections were on a rise. He later promised citizens to recall the restrictions after two weeks. However, later updated that the cabinet had finalized plans to maintain the "adjusted alert level 4" for another 14 days.

Under the new rules, restaurants will be allowed to serve food on their premises conditioned to following strict protocols. Moreover, Gyms would also be allowed to operate under some conditions.

Commenting on the vaccination initiative, Ramaphosa said that a government advisory committee is working on how early they can bring Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Although the vaccine campaign has been modest so far, with only 4.2 million doses given out for a population of 60 million, officials continue to work on speeding up daily vaccinations to at least 300,000 by August end.

According to Ramaphosa, the European Union and African Union has also agreed that Aspen, a local pharmaceutical company, will provide more than 17 million J&J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine doses to South Africa and other African countries in the next three months.

He added that the country has been discussing on producing the medical ingredient domestically to have a wholly-owned African vaccine produced for the continent.

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