South Africa extends tight COVID-19 restrictions for another 14 days

A person crosses the street at sunset amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Soweto, South Africa, April 1, 2021. REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG, July 11 (Reuters) – South Africa on Sunday extended strict COVID-19 rules for another 14 days and maintained restrictions, including a ban on gatherings, a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and a ban on the sale of alcohol .

The country, which is the hardest-hit country in the African continent in terms of recorded cases and deaths, is hit by a third wave of infections fueled by the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

“Our health systems across the country remain under pressure,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.

Earlier this month, South Africa set a new record of over 26,000 daily cases, which is a drag on hospitals. Continue reading

Ramaphosa moved the country to the fourth level of a five-point restriction scale in late June as infections rose and promised to review the restrictions after two weeks. Continue reading

On Sunday, he said the cabinet had decided to keep “adjusted alert level 4” for another 14 days, even though restaurants under strict health protocols could once again serve food on their premises. Fitness studios are also allowed to reopen under certain conditions.

Ramaphosa added that a government advisory committee was working on how soon Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine should be included in the COVID-19 vaccination program.

So far, the vaccination campaign has been slow, with 4.2 million doses administered in a population of 60 million, but officials hope to increase daily vaccinations to at least 300,000 by the end of August.

Ramaphosa said the African Union and the European Union had reached an agreement for local pharmaceutical company Aspen(APNJ.J) Delivery of more than 17 million Johnson & Johnson(JNJ.N) Vaccine doses to South Africa and other African countries over the next three months.

Aspen sources vaccine ingredients from J&J to be packaged in South Africa, a process known as fill and finish.

Ramaphosa said his country was negotiating local manufacturing of the active ingredient “so that we can have a completely proprietary African vaccine made on African soil”.

Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by Peter Graff

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