A Fourth Estate® Service

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

South African President Extends COVID-19 Restrictions, Closes Borders Due to Rising Cases

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the level 3 lockdown and closed land borders due to a “massive increase” of cases mainly driven by a COVID-19 variant first detected last November.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the level 3 lockdown and closed land borders due to a “massive increase” of cases mainly driven by a COVID-19 variant first detected last November.

First announced on Dec. 28 and due to be lifted on Jan. 15, the Alert Level 3 measures have been extended “until we have passed the peak of new infections,” Ramaphosa said in a live national address on Jan. 11.

Ramaphosa also announced the closure of 20 land borders until Feb. 15 with exceptions that include transportation of goods, traveling for medical emergencies, and the return of South African nationals and permanent residents.

“The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating,” Ramaphosa said.

According to Ramaphosa and data from Johns Hopkins University, South Africa has recorder nearly 190,000 new cases since the beginning of the year, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to over 1.2 million cases. Meanwhile, over 4,000 deaths have been recorded this year, bringing the total to 33,000.

Ramaphosa also said that over 148,000 people have been admitted to the hospital due to the virus.

Ramaphosa cited a research by scientists that showed that the increase of cases was largely due to the variant known as 501.v2 that spreads much faster than earlier variants.

“The new variant means that we must be more diligent, more compliant, and more consistent in following the necessary health guidelines,” Ramaphosa urged the public.

Under the restrictions, wearing masks in public is compulsory and indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited, excluding funerals which are limited to 50 attendees.

Beaches and public parks in hotspot areas will remain closed and the curfew is scheduled from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Selling alcohol is also still not allowed.

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