Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
4 Oct 2021
11:59 am

Another hard lockdown incoming? Experts predict Covid-19 spike

Cheryl Kahla

'It remains to be seen what impact the looser [level 1] regulations on gatherings will have on the Covid-19 caseload in coming weeks,' experts say.

Picture: iStock

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to increase the number limit on gatherings has been slammed by experts. The regulation shift was seen as a political move that could usher in another hard lockdown.

Level 1 lockdown: Gatherings

Back in February 2021, the lockdown level 1 regulations allowed for a maximum of 250 people outdoors and 100 people indoors.

During the most recent level 1 adjustments, Ramaphosa increased the limit to 2,000 people outdoors, and 750 people at indoor gatherings.

While many were excited about alcohol restrictions easing as the country moved to level 1, the regulation amendments have since been slammed by critics.

Political campaigning and electioneering

The University of Stellenbosch’s Bureau of Economic Research on Monday morning said, in its weekly forecast, the move to level 1 “should be seen against the backdrop of the looming 1 November elections”.

“It will greatly aid party political campaigning. It remains to be seen what impact the looser regulations on gatherings will have on the Covid-19 caseload in coming weeks.”

In addition, Dr Vicky Baillie, a senior researcher at Wits University’s Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, said South Africa should prepare for a spike in Covid-19 infections in November.

She called on South Africans to continue adhering to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as wearing face masks, socially distancing and hand washing regularly.

Super-spreader events

Apart from the risk of election campaign events turning into super-spreader events, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) said the regulations did not make “scientific sense” in allowing gatherings for 2,000 people.

SAMA said South Africans must “not assume that the virus has been eradicated”, adding that it is still “critical to preventing further infections”.

Furthermore, SAMA says “vaccination efforts must be ramped up considerably”.

[SAMA] calls on all South Africans to get vaccinated. Those who have not done so yet must do so as soon as possible.

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