President Cyril Ramaphosa says the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will be meeting to take stock of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
This as new COVID-19 cases surged by nearly five-fold over the past weeks alone – rising from a positivity rate of about 2% to about 25%.
“We will soon be convening a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic. This will enable us to take whatever further measures are needed to keep people safe and healthy,” the President said yesterday.
The President said although the steep rise in infections is a concern, the surge and the emergence of new variants like Omicron were to be expected.
“Disease modellers in our country have told us that we would likely experience a fourth wave around this time and that it was almost inevitable that new variants of the virus would emerge,” he said.
Ahead of the meeting of the NCCC, the President urged people living in South Africa to take extra care and “not wait” for government to issue stricter guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We should not wait for new regulations before we reduce the size of the gatherings, as research has shown this to be an effective means of reducing the spread of the virus. All public and private facilities, including workplaces, taxis, buses and trains, must ensure adequate ventilation to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Every facility that serves the public has a legal responsibility to ensure that people practice social distancing. We must reinvigorate our masking programme, where we insist on no entry into any public or business facility without a mask,” said the President.
He added that as cases continue to rise, the cancellation of big events during the festive season remains “by far the safest and most responsible thing to do now”.
On the Omicron variant, he said although not much is currently known about it, government is hard at work to prepare for any impact it will have on the healthcare system.
“Scientists in our country and around the world are still hard at work to answer critical questions about the new Omicron variant, such as its transmissibility, its progression, whether it causes more severe disease and how effective vaccines will be against it.
“While we do not yet know what impact the Omicron variant will have on hospital admissions, we have been preparing hospitals to admit more patients, and we are investigating how we can quickly secure medication for treating COVID-19.”
President Ramaphosa reiterated the call for all those living in South Africa to vaccinate against COVID-19 and assured the public that the country has enough supplies of vaccines.
He added that vaccination remains a crucial step in South Africa’s economic recovery following the devastation caused by the pandemic.
“As every day passes, and as infections rise, the reasons to get vaccinated become more compelling and the need becomes ever more urgent. Vaccination is essential for our economic recovery, because as more people are vaccinated more areas of economic activity will be opened up. We can do our work and socialise under less stringent restrictions, and our lives can return to some degree of normality.”
Meanwhile, Vooma Week continues until 10 December where vaccination sites will be increased at places with high traffic volumes including travel hubs, shopping malls and recreational sites.
The National Department of Health has declared 3 -10 December 2021 “Vooma Week” in a big push for vaccinations ahead of the festive break.
President Ramaphosa has urged the public to take advantage of the opportunity to get the jab.
“I call on all South Africans to go out and get vaccinated without delay. If necessary, take advantage of the Vooma Vaccination Weekends that make it easier to visit the facility closest to you. Let us all play our part in South Africa’s social and economic recovery. Let us do the responsible and right thing for our own health and for the health of others,” he said.