South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has disclosed that the country would be extending the two weeks stringent coronavirus measures, including banning the selling of alcohol following the infection surge recorded across the country.
He added that move to tighten COVID-19 restrictions for another 14 days had become imperative after it had been proven that current containment measures are insufficient to cope with the speed and scale of new infections.
Ramaphosa added that the new extension would include maintaining restrictions that include a ban on gatherings, a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and a prohibition on the sale of alcohol.
The president said that the cabinet had decided to maintain “adjusted alert level 4” for another 14 days, although restaurants would be able to serve food on their premises again subject to strict health protocols. He added that Gyms would also be allowed to reopen under certain conditions.
Ramaphosa added that a government advisory committee was working on how soon to bring Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine into the COVID-19 immunisation programme.
“Our health system countrywide remains under pressure,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.
Ramaphosa said that the African Union and European Union had reached an agreement for local pharmaceutical company Aspen(APNJ.J) to deliver more than 17 million Johnson & Johnson(JNJ.N) vaccine doses to South Africa and other African countries over the next three months.
The country, the worst-hit on the African continent in terms of recorded cases and deaths, is in the grip of the third wave of infections driven by the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.
Early this month South Africa recorded a new record of over 26,000 daily cases, stretching hospitals to breaking point. Ramaphosa moved the country to the fourth level of a five-tier restriction scale in late June as infections climbed, promising to review the restrictions after two weeks.
So far the vaccine campaign has been slow, with 4.2 million doses administered out of a population of 60 million, but officials are hoping to ramp up daily vaccinations to at least 300,000 by the end of August.
However, Aspen was sourcing vaccine ingredients from J&J to package them in South Africa, a process known as fill and finish.
Ramaphosa said that his country was negotiating for the drug substance to be produced locally, “so that we have a fully-owned African vaccine manufactured on African soil”.