Government has dismissed “rumours” about the introduction of a second hard lockdown for the country, amid an apparent rise in coronavirus cases. Business Tech reports that on Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said that a return to a hard lockdown is on the cards, unless the country sees a decline in the number of daily coronavirus cases. “Looking at the statistics, we can now safely say that we are definitely going back into a hard lockdown if there is no urgent and drastic change in behaviour,” he said.
The premier said that a second wave of COVID-19 will be “stronger and deadlier” – not only in deaths, but also in terms of economic hardship. “There is no use in chasing profits today, only to be shut down by a hard lockdown tomorrow,” he said.
However, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Mlungisi Mthsali is quoted in the report as saying that the department has not been instructed to move to a higher or harder lockdown level, calling the buzz around the premier’s comments “rumours and speculation”. “There have been no discussions, unless it’s still coming.” He said that “a lot of progress has been made since level 5, 4 and even 3” and he “doesn’t see a likelihood of us moving to a higher level”.
When asked where the rumours of a stricter lockdown came from, Mthsali said it was likely due to “people” speculating about the rising number of COVID-19 cases. “The numbers are growing but we still have excess (hospital bed) capacity. This lockdown was to get us to this point where we feel there is a balance; that there are infections but also hospitals with spare capacity.”
A move towards a hard lockdown will have dire consequences for citizens and the economy, said the Free Market Foundation (FMF). “A hard lockdown affects poorer people much more than those in the middle- and upper-classes who can, often, continue working from home,” said FMF project manager, Chris Hattingh.
Hattingh said that the economy is a “living organism” – from street corners to corporate board rooms – with people making choices, trading with each other, finding ways to improve their own lives and those of their families. “It cannot simply be switched on and off,” he said.
Responding to questions from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) regarding the pandemic and the government’s fight against corruption, IoL reports taht President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied that there are plans to move the country back to level 3 in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases. Ramaphosa said the rumours were “simply not true”. The president is, himself, at present in self-quarantine after a guest at a dinner he attended at the weekend tested positive.
“What we now need to do in light of what we are going through, I don’t want to be alarmist and I don’t want our people to be alarmed with the rumours such as that we are going to level 3, that is simply not true and I want to assure everyone that that is not true,” he said.
Ramaphosa added that if the need arose, he would be the one to advise the country. “All we need to do is adhere to our preventative measures and wear your masks,” he said.
Ramaphosa said: “I received a report today (Tuesday). I want to look at that report very closely and have the opportunity in the coming days, next week, of being able to address the people of South Africa about what we now need to do…
Daily Maverick reports that the president was concerned that as South Africa moved towards what he called “the fun period of December where people will let their guard down”, increasing numbers of people are not wearing masks, ditching hand washing and physical distancing measures.
Full Business Tech report
Full IoL report
Full Daily Maverick report