South Africa tightens restrictions amid surge in COVID instances | Coronavirus pandemic Information
Masks are mandatory, indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited, and a curfew must be enforced.
South Africa has again announced stricter restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus infections caused by a faster-spreading new variant.
Among other restrictions announced late Monday, indoor and outdoor gatherings will be banned and a curfew will be imposed from 9:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. GMT) to 6:00 a.m. (4:00 p.m. GMT).
Only authorized workers, including medical and security personnel or emergency personnel, are allowed to move during the curfew.
“From now on it is compulsory for everyone to wear a mask in public spaces. A person who does not wear a cloth mask over their nose and mouth in a public place is committing a crime, ”President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address.
“Once convicted, they will be punished with a fine or a prison sentence not exceeding six months, or both a fine and a prison sentence.”
Extensive restrictions were put in place after authorities confirmed that a new variant of coronavirus called 501.V2 was floating in the country [Shafiek Tassiem/Reuters]Ramaphosa also announced that non-essential facilities, including shops, restaurants, bars and all cultural establishments, must close at 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. GMT) while retail alcohol sales and local alcohol consumption are prohibited are .
The new rules will be in place for 14 days and could be reviewed within the next few weeks if they see a persistent decline in infections and hospital admissions, he added.
On Sunday, the South African Ministry of Health reported a grim milestone of one million infections – the highest number on the continent.
So far, the novel virus has killed more than 27,000 people in South Africa.
The sweeping restrictions came after authorities confirmed a new variant of coronavirus was floating in the country.
The new strain, known as 501.V2, was discovered by a team of scientists across South Africa who have been tracking the genetics of the virus.
The variant appears to focus on the south and southeast of the country and dominates the results of the samples collected since October.
“It was the doctors and health workers who called for these restrictions,” said Haru Mutasa of Al Jazeera in Port Elizabeth, which has now become the country’s coronavirus hotspot.
“They said they really weren’t surprised at the surge in infections. What surprised them was how quickly it happened,” she added.
The Ministry of Health reported more than a million infections – the highest number on the continent. So far, the novel virus has killed more than 27,000 people in South Africa [Shafiek Tassiem/Reuters]]The outbreak in the hardest-hit country in Africa appears to be accelerating, as it exceeded a million nine days after reporting 900,000 cases.
Several hospitals and medical centers have reported that their wards are overcrowded with coronavirus patients, with many health care workers canceling their holidays to cope with the huge influx.
According to Mutasa, people failed to comply with basic restrictions, traveled the country, visited friends and family without wearing masks or social distancing.
“In the Eastern Cape Province […] People tell you that they had up to seven people in the family who died from COVID. You hear stories from people who attended funerals and got sick, ”she said.