“But it is too soon to celebrate. We are still very much in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has taken over 11,000 lives in South Africa alone.“
JOHANNESBURG, August 17 (ANA) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Monday that Covid-19 still posed a threat and that it was too soon to celebrate despite the government relaxing restrictions aimed at containing the virus.
Ramaphosa issued the caution in his weekly newsletter, less than two days after announcing that the government would lift a contentious ban on tobacco sales after nearly five months, as well as ease travel restrictions and also allow the resumption of alcohol sales from midnight on Monday.
In the column, Ramaphosa said the move from alert level 3 to level 2 of a lockdown that has been in place since March 27 “is a sign of the progress we are making in reducing new infections and demand on our health facilities (and) also a very important development as we strive to restart our economy”.
“But it is too soon to celebrate. We are still very much in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has taken over 11,000 lives in South Africa alone,” the president said, noting that, at more than half a million confirmed cases, South Africa still had the fifth highest number of infections in the world.
There was also always a chance of a resurgence of the disease, he added, pointing to New Zealand which had gone back under lockdown three months after it was declared coronavirus-free.
There have been signs that South Africa has turned the corner, with the number of new confirmed cases continuing to decline. At the peak of the disease about a month ago, the country was recording around 12,000 new cases a day, but this has dropped to an average of around 5,000 a day over the past week.
But Ramaphosa warned that as the country moved to alert level 2 and more restrictions on social and economic activity were lifted, there was increased risk of transmission.
“The greatest threat to the health of nation right now is complacency. It may be that we are now permitted to meet friends and family, to visit entertainment venues, to travel for leisure and to consume alcohol in restaurants, bars and taverns,” he said.
“But as the old adage goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
– African News Agency (ANA)