News / Covid-19

Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
30 Sep 2021
2:12 pm

Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa ‘no longer necessary’ – vaccinology expert

Cheryl Kahla

The country's leading vaccinologist says restrictions haven’t done much to curb the spread of infections.

Picture: iStock

South Africa has been in lockdown – at one level or another – for the past 552 days. However, there is hope at the end of the tunnel: it may be over soon.

In fact, vaccinology professor the University of the Witwatersrand, Shabir Madhi, says lockdown levels are no longer necessary.

No more lockdown?

Limit indoor gatherings

Madhi says restrictions are “probably not needed anymore”, especially not the type of protocols government imposed on us in the past.

The only beneficial restriction to keep, he says, would be to limit the number of people at an indoor gathering, “especially indoor gatherings in poorly ventilated spaces”.

Madhi says: “All of the data indicates […] the level of restrictions haven’t done much when it comes to the actual number of people who have been infected.”

“I think outdoor gatherings […] are probably safe as across almost all provinces we are on a downward coronavirus decline”, Madhi said on 702 earlier this week.

ALSO READ: Did government miss its level 2 lockdown review deadline?

Lockdown doesn’t work in Africa

Back in July, University of Johannesburg’s Professor Nicholas Ngepah said in countries with high levels of poverty, lockdown measures should only be implemented once “other non-medical measures” have been exhausted.

He said socio-economic conditions must be factored in, as the majority of people in Africa do not have access to nutrition, economic opportunities or infrastructure to survive a lockdown.

“People get locked down by strict regulations. It becomes almost impossible for a poor person to keep [to] the rules of the lockdown.”

That said, there was one upside to keeping lockdown in place in South Africa. Madhi said it alleviated some pressure on the healthcare system.

Latest covid-19 update

As of Wednesday, 2,106 new Covid-19 cases have been identified. A further 108 patients succumbed to the virus, with the total death toll now at 87,525.

South Africa currently has a caseload of 2,900,994, of which 2,766,892 have recovered. There are 46,577 cases in the country, at the time of publishing.

Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus has killed nearly five million people – 4,762,596, to be exact – since the outbreak emerged back in December 2019.

A total of 232,788,940 cases have been registered worldwide, with the United States still the most affected country. The US recorded 692,975 deaths from 43,277,743 cases. 

ALSO READ: Health department cautions against Covid complacency as level 1 looms