South Africa tightened its COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, banned alcohol sales, and extended its nationwide curfew as infections passed through a million signs due to a faster-spreading variant of the disease discovered in the country.
South Africa recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections on the continent, with 1,004,413 reported cases and about 27,000 deaths. By the end of November, daily cases began to increase rapidly, reaching between 10,000 and 14,000.
The new variant, dubbed 501.V2, was discovered in South Africa by a network of scientists who track the virus’s genetics. It has led to a number of countries, including the UK and Germany, to ban flights from the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address that the cabinet has decided to move the country from level 1 to level 3 restrictions with immediate effect. This would include a complete ban on alcohol sales, widespread cancellation of events, and a legal requirement to wear masks in public.
Ramaphosa said the nationwide curfew would range from 2100 to 0600 local time (1900 GMT to 0700 GMT). Public parks, beaches, dams, rivers and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed.
A number of districts and municipalities have been added to the hot spot list, the president said. These areas may be subject to further restrictions, he said.
“To maintain the capacity of our healthcare system, we must flatten the curve to enable it to respond effectively to this new wave of infection,” Ramaphosa said.
“If we see a steady drop in infections, these restrictions could be revised in the next few weeks,” Ramaphosa said.
The commercial center of Gauteng, the tourist favorite Western Cape and the coastal Eastern Cape are the worst affected provinces and make up most of the areas currently considered hot spots. Areas in the northern Limpopo state have also been added to the list. -reuters-