South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the state of emergency in the country by a month to 15 December amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but has eased restrictions amid attempts to resuscitate the economy.
Travel from all countries will now be permitted, subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative Covid-19 certificate.
“We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening.
The president said he was aware that South Africans were “suffering from coronavirus fatigue”.
“The problem is that we have begun to forget that the virus is still present all around us. It is very much still here. And it will remain with us for some time to come,” the president said as he shared the country’s plans to avoid the high levels of a second wave of infections in many countries in Europe currently.
“From the progress we have made, from the lessons we have learnt, we now know that under the current alert level 1 we have all the tools we need to prevent a resurgence…. In response to the rising infections (in South Africa), we are implementing the resurgence plan that has been developed together with the surge team deployed to South Africa by the World Health Organisation,” he said.
“Interventions include primary health care outreach teams to intensify contact tracing, daily community mobilisation, ensuring the readiness of health facilities, and being ready to respond to possible clusters outbreaks.
“For as long as we observe all the necessary health protocols and remaining restrictions – as individuals, as businesses, as institutions – there should be no need to return to a higher alert level,” the president said.
Ramaphosa said the extension of the National State of Disaster was only to ensure that all the necessary prevention measures could be kept in place.
Commenting on the news a day earlier that a vaccine had been developed, Ramaphosa said that South Africa was collaborating with several multinational pharmaceutical companies to obtain a safe and effective vaccine for its citizens and for the rest of the African continent.
“It is estimated that Africa will need around USD 12 billion and 750 million doses of an effective vaccine. Countries are going to have to allocate funding so that there can be access to vaccines to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus,” the president said.