AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
SOUTH Africa is to open its borders to international travelers, relax restrictions on alcohol sales but warned of a resurgence of COVID-19.
SA president Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address to the nation, said international travel would be subject to strict COVID-19 protocols.
He said the state of national disaster, declared in response to COVID-19, has been extended to January 15.
He also announced that South Africa would embark on five days of mourning – November 25 to 29 – for those who died of COVID-19 and gender-based violence.
Ramaphosa said while South African has made impressive progress in the fight against COVID-19, the government was deeply concerned about the resurgence in the Eastern Cape, where infections and fatalities have increased dramatically.
Ramaphos said: “Although infections have stabilised, many people are still getting infected every day and we remain vulnerable. We are seeing how quickly and how dramatically infections can rise in a number of countries. We are also seeing how health systems can become overwhelmed in the face of rising infections. The rise in infections in some of these countries has led to the reimposition of tough restrictions.
“We have also seen in other countries how a resurgence can dash hopes for a swift economic recovery. We must do everything we can to prevent this from happening in our country. If we are to prevent a resurgence of infections in our country there are a few areas that we must pay attention to. The first is the situation in the Eastern Cape, which is showing signs of a resurgence. In the last week, the number of new cases in the province was 50% higher than the week before. And the total number of new cases in the last 14 days was around 145% higher than the previous 14 days.
“These increases are being driven by massive spikes in the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Sarah Baartman District in particular. For the last month, there has been a sustained upward increase in hospital admissions in the province.
“The evidence suggests that the increases in the Eastern Cape could have been triggered by outbreaks in institutions of higher learning such as universities, schools and attendance by people at large gatherings. When this is combined with poor adherence to social distancing, mask wearing and other poor hygiene measures, the environment for rising infections is set.
With many people moving between the Eastern Cape and other provinces – particularly the Western Cape – it is a matter of time before this surge spreads to other parts of the country.”