Lockdown has 'completely failed' in densely populated urban communities, says Wits expert Van Den Heever

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The country's hard COVID-19 lockdown has “completely failed” in vulnerable densely populated urban communities, prompting concern that South Africa will have a “raging epidemic” by month end. The Times reports that this was according to Professor Alex van den Heever, chair of social security at the Wits School of Governance who said there was inadequate upscaling of testing and contact tracing – which was supposed to have been implemented during the first 35 days of the lockdown. "Instead we see the epidemic trajectory rising during the 35-day period, and continuing on the same trend thereafter."

The country is expected to move between the different lockdown levels over the next few months based on the number of coronavirus cases seen. But, the report says, van den Heever questions if the different levels have been coherently framed, stating they do not be appear to have “been designed with clear public health objectives in mind”.

“Many of the remaining controls on economic activity are not clearly related to a public health objective. Given this, it is unclear when a movement between levels will be considered. The lockdown cannot prevent further spread as many at-risk populations cannot socially distance. The controls on economic activity also appear not to be rationally connected to any prevention strategy and are just harming the economy without preventing the spread,” he is quoted in the report as saying.

Van den Heever said the government had also failed to establish a programme of strategic testing and tracing, despite having ample time to do so.

Full report in The Times

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