South Africa will resume a ban on alcohol sales and reinstate a daily curfew to free up hospital capacity as the country’s Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
“The storm is upon us. More than a quarter of a million South Africans have been infected by the coronavirus,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening.
Gauteng Province, the home of the commercial hub of Johannesburg and the country’s capital, Pretoria, is leading the surge as it fast approaches 100,000 confirmed cases.
What the numbers say: South Africa has recorded more than 12,000 new Covid-19 infections every day, equivalent to 500 new cases every hour. A quarter of South Africa’s more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths have occurred in the last week.
Ramaphosa said it was projected that 40,000 to 50,00 South Africans could die from the virus within the year.
“We must make it our single most important task to prove these projections wrong,” Ramaphosa said.
He highlighted the success of treatment interventions and a stringent lockdown for keeping South Africa’s 1.5% case fatality rate among the lowest in the world.
As the country’s pandemic stretches into its fourth month, the healthcare shortfalls across South Africa are becoming clear, including the need for more than 12,000 health workers, mostly nurses.
“Our greatest challenge still lies ahead,” Ramaphosa said. “Health facilities in several provinces are already under tremendous strain.”