Following reports that the third wave in South Africa is being driven by the B.1.617.2 Delta Covid-19 variant first found in India, the Coronavirus Command Council called an emergency meeting on Saturday morning.
However, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni refrained from disclosing the agenda to the public.
South Africa moved to level 3 on 16 June 2021 and speculation is rife that Ramaphosa will introduce a series of stricter regulations – possibly a return to lockdown level 5 – in due course.
On Friday, co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 Professor Koleka Mlisana hinted at tighter restrictions needed to curb the surge of Covid-19 infections.
Will SA move to level 5?
The move to lockdown level 5 could topple South Africa’s already struggling economy, however, experts suggest an increase in restrictions are necessary.
With this in mind, an adjusted level 3 and level 4 is most likely, as this would curb the surge in infections without having a massively adverse effect on the economy.
The most probable casualty, should lockdown restrictions be increased, would be alcohol, as this has shown to put the healthcare system under tremendous strain due to trauma cases.
Dr Mary Kawonga, chair of the Premier’s Advisory Committee (PAC) on Thursday said an outright ban will be bad for the economy, but increased restrictions on sales over weekends could be implemented.
‘House on fire’
The Coronavirus Command Council met on Thursday 22 June to discuss the possibility of moving to a stricter lockdown level amid the third wave.
At the time, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said “the house is on fire, we will not change the trajectory of the pandemic if we do not do dramatic things”.
“As a premier, I don’t want to send a message saying everything is okay, the message must be clear”, he added.
Read more here: Lockdown level 5 decision to be made this week
Worst case scenario
On Thursday, the Gauteng Provincial Command Council (PCC) gave an update on Covid-19, where Professor Bruce Mellado said the province was already in a “worst-case scenario”.
“Unfortunately the worst-case scenario has materialised in that the modelling of the worst-case scenario describes relatively well the data.”
This is after 10,800 Covid-19 cases were recorded in Gauteng alone in a 24-hour period, the highest single-day increase since 14 January when 8,503 cases were recorded.
Additional reporting by Xanet Scheepers and Molefe Seeletsa