Johannesburg – The third-wave’s rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in Gauteng remains a concern, President Cyril Ramaphosa says.
He said the rise in the number of cases and infections needed to be dealt with urgently before more lives and livelihoods were lost.
Gauteng is the country’s economic hub. While it’s the smallest province in the country, it has the biggest population.
The number of cases in the province has been rising rapidly, surpassing the peaks of the first and the second wave.
There has been more than 13 155 new cases countrywide reported since Sunday. More than 8 000 of those are in Gauteng.
“This week the number of new cases exceeded the peak in both previous waves, and it has not started to decline yet. As a result, hospitals are reaching capacity, and health-care workers are exhausted.
“Gauteng looks small on the map. But it is home to one in five South Africans and two-fifths of our economy. As an economic hub, many people travel to and from this province. We need to turn this around urgently, or lives and livelihoods will be seriously under threat,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.
Ramaphosa warned against fatigue and said the consequences of not adhering to Covid-19 protocols would risk an impact on the economy.
“We may be tired of this persistent enemy, but it is not yet tired of us. The threat to health and lives is evident as people become ill and some die. So, we must do what we can, as individuals, as families and communities, as unions and employers, and as government, to limit the toll.
“When the virus surges to this extent, the economy also faces challenges. Workers have to isolate or quarantine, people stop going out for recreation or shopping, tourism comes to a standstill, and workplaces have to spend more money to prevent infections,” he said.
He said people should avoid social gatherings no matter how small they were.
“We have to avoid social gatherings of all kinds, whether for family, friends, business or recreation. We must work from home if we can. We must wear masks when other people are around and stay 1.5m from other people whenever possible. Although we find ourselves in the middle of winter, we need to ensure good ventilation when indoors or in public transport, for instance by opening windows.”
Ramaphosa pleaded for patience as the country’s vaccination programme continues. He said the government hoped to vaccinate most of the population by the end of the year. As of Sunday, 2 142 624 people had been vaccinated.