Ramaphosa said in a national television address on Sunday evening that senior health officials warn of the impending shortage of hospital beds and medical oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak in COVID-19 cases , expected between the end of July and September. He said that some hospitals had to refuse patients because all of their beds were full.
The rapid increase in the number of cases reported in South Africa has made it one of the global centers for COVID-19, as it is classified as the 9th country most affected by the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country has reported increases of more than 10,000 confirmed cases over several days and the last daily increase was nearly 13,500. South Africa accounts for 40% of all confirmed cases in Africa, with 276,242, an increase of 12,058 in one day.
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South Africa recorded 4,079 deaths, 25% of which occurred in the past week, said Ramaphosa.
“While the outbreak of the infections was expected, the strength and speed at which it progressed was understandably cause for great concern,” said Ramaphosa. “Many of us are afraid of the danger it poses for ourselves and our families.”
Ramaphosa said that since the sale of alcohol was reintroduced in June, hospitals have experienced an increase in admissions to their trauma and emergency departments.
The nationwide curfew states that people should not be on the road between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Monday.
Masks have also been declared mandatory, with all transport operators, employers and owners of businesses and buildings now legally required to ensure that everyone entering their businesses or premises wears masks.
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Ramaphosa lambasted citizens who continued to have overcrowded social gatherings, including parties and funerals, saying they had contributed significantly to the rapid spread of the virus.
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“In the midst of our national efforts to fight this virus, there are a number of people who have gone to organization parties, who have binge drinking and some who are walking in overcrowded spaces without masks”, a he declared.
South Africa imposed one of the toughest closings in the world in April and May, including the closure of almost all mines, factories and businesses, and a ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. These measures have slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but the South African economy, already in recession, has contracted dramatically, increasing unemployment above 30% and hunger.
In June, the country began to loosen restrictions to allow millions of South Africans to return to work. The relaxation of the restrictions allowed the sale of alcohol four days a week. However, within a few weeks, the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations in the country increased considerably, leading Ramaphosa to reimpose the ban on the sale of alcohol and other restrictions.
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Over 30% of cases in South Africa are in the economic center of Gauteng province, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria. The Cape Town tourist center also has a high number of cases. The densely populated Soweto commune of Johannesburg has a high concentration of cases, officials said.
“We knew that with the relaxation of restrictions, the number of cases would increase. But what is surprising is the rate at which the number of cases has increased, “said Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who is part of the national coronavirus committee that advises Ramaphosa.
“We can expect the number of cases and hospitalizations to increase for several weeks… this will continue for the next six to eight weeks. By October, we may see a decline. “
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South Africa has carried out 2.1 million tests, on a population of 58 million. Due to an international shortage of test equipment, South Africa experienced a long delay in obtaining test results in June, reaching 12 days in government clinics at one point. The situation has improved and the average time to obtain test results is five days in public laboratories and two days in private laboratories, according to the latest figures published by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.
The 54 African countries have reported 577,904 cases, according to the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Confirmed cases from the continent are concentrated in four countries – South Africa, Egypt with 81,158 cases, Nigeria with 31,987 cases and Algeria with 18,712 cases – which together represent more than 65% of the cases of continent. The number of actual cases in Africa is said to be much higher, as the screening rate is very low in many countries.
© 2020 The Canadian Press