In the wake of an unprecedented surge in infections and deaths mostly due to the Delta version of the coronavirus, South Africa has tightened restrictions with level 4 lockdown protocols, which include a longer curfew and a ban on all social gatherings.
In a national broadcast, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the new regulations will come into effect from June 27 and will remain for the next two week, following which the situation will be reviewed. Prior to the announcement, the Health Ministry revealed that 15,036 new cases and 122 fatalities from COVID-19 had been detected in the previous 24 hours.
Reports state that the COVID-19 Delta variant, which has been found in at least 85 countries, was first discovered in India and is most likely to be blamed for the recent outbreak.
Notably, South Africa’s Gauteng province would witness strict restrictions as the region accounts for over 60% of new cases. Restrictions include travel ban, with exceptions for business travel or returning home to and from the province.
The level four limitations will also include a prohibition on all events, whether indoors or out, for political, cultural, social, or religious reasons. Exemptions will be made for funerals, which are limited to 50 people and subjected to wearing masks and maintaining social distancing as part of health and safety protocols.
Alcohol sales will be banned, hotels will only be able to sell food for takeaway or delivery, and academic institutions will remain close.
According to President Ramaphosa, the key emphasis is on restricting social contact while conserving the economy. He thanked physicians and scientists who promptly identified that the Delta variant, which was more transmittable than the Beta version, was driving the third wave in South Africa.