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“It’s too soon for level 2”


SA needs ’a few more days’ before deciding on lockdown level 2, says ministerial advisor Prof Salim Abdool Karim

Professor Salim S Abdool Karim is the chairperson of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – The chairperson of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, Professor Salim S Abdool Karim, says the country needs a few more days before it can decide whether it should ease the lockdown.

Karim told Independent Media on Wednesday that the latest trends in Covid-19 infections and admission to hospitals were promising, hence the calls to ease the lockdown regulations.

His comment came as the forum for the country’s director-generals (DGs) has reportedly recommended to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) that it must open up most economic sectors and move the country to level 2.

The country is currently on level 3.

Giving a scientific background on the country’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus from March this year up to August, Karim said there were a few cases in the early days of the lockdown but the cases surged in June.

He said that was because the South African government acted early and placed the country under lockdown. In other case studies, Karim said, most countries had their surges a month after lockdowns were implemented. This was because most countries acted very late to impose restrictions.

Speaking on the latest decline in new cases and admissions, Karim said that although case numbers had fallen in the past seven days, information gleaned from that data was not enough to allow the council to formulate a decision.

“In the past seven days to 10 days, the number of overall new cases have been coming down, (but) that on its own is not enough because you need to collaborate it with other information,” Karim said.

In addition, Karim said in the past few months, out of every four tests conducted, one was positive, but now only one in five Covid-19 tests conducted was positive.

“So if you look at the evidence… It’s a promising trend, but it’s too early to make any firm conclusions. We need a few more days. But it’s all going in the right direction. I am optimistic that we are now on a downward trend.

“However, I am worried about a second surge. In order to prevent that, people must still practice preventative measures like washing their hands, social distancing and wearing masks. If we don’t do that, we risk having a second surge,” Karim said.

By Tuesday, the country had recorded 566 109 cases. Out of those cases, there were 10 751 deaths and 426 125 recoveries.

Gauteng remained the epicentre of the pandemic with 194 093 cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 100 494 cases and the Western Cape with 100 316 cases.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said she was not aware of the reported recommendations by the DGs to move the country from level 3 to level 2.

She also said she did not know when the Cabinet would convene to deliberate on the reported matter.

Political Bureau