Should SA brace for a hard lockdown? President Cyril Ramaphosa urged the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to urgently look at Omicron interventions as Covid-19 infections surge.
Ramaphosa will return from his West African tour on Wednesday. Meanwhile, members of his security team who tested positive while in Abuja, Nigeria, had already been airlifted to South Africa.
Urgent NCCC meeting
Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, said the NCCC will convene an urgent sitting as soon as Ramaphosa lands on Wednesday.
The president and the NCCC’s priority would be to discuss the interventions required to combat the spread of the Omicron variant while keeping the economy afloat.
While government has to assure the safety of its citizens by doing what is necessary to curb the sudden infection surge, it also has to secure the livelihoods of South Africans.
As reported by City Press, Gungubele said the livelihoods is the biggest issue: “While we have to ensure that lives aren’t lost, our labour surveys haven’t been speaking a good language”.
Hard lockdown doesn’t work in Africa
The data suggests hard lockdown is not an ideal solution for Africa – and by default, South Africa – as the continent’s socio-economic conditions must be factored into the decision.
UJ Professor Nicholas Ngepah said in countries with high levels of poverty and corruption, lockdown measures should only be implemented once “other non-medical measures” have been exhausted.
Ngepah said most countries in Africa would not survive another hard lockdown, especially given the economic struggles brought about by the global pandemic.
“People get locked down by strict regulations [and] it becomes almost impossible for a poor person to keep the rules of the lockdown”, Ngepah said back in July.
Ramaphosa’s West African tour
Ramaphosa said African countries have for far too long “trained our gaze on trade and investment opportunities in markets beyond the continent such as Europe, Asia and North America.”
“If the AfCFTA is to be a success, we have to both strengthen the existing trade relationships with countries closer to home and forge new ones.”