SA on brink of third wave: Ban gatherings and enforce curfew – experts

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Cape Town – With South Africa on the brink of a third wave, it has been confirmed that discussions are under way to decide which lockdown measures will be introduced to militate against the imminent third wave of the pandemic.

In the last 24 hours, about 4 424 new cases have been recorded, which represents a 10.2% positivity rate, while Gauteng and the North West continuing their sharp upward trends, with others following suit.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni confirmed to the media on Thursday that the cabinet is discussing further lockdown measures against the imminent third wave of the pandemic.

“As cabinet, we are discussing and consulting on the measures to sure we protect South Africans. A decision will be taken soon after the consultation and we will announce a date on which the president then hosts the family meeting. We can confirm to South Africans there will be a family meeting soon,” Ntshaveni said.

While the cabinet continues with consultations on what interventions to introduce, some experts say government needs to focus on gatherings and an extended evening curfew.

According to South African Medical Research Council president Professor Glenda Gray, the key thing the government should do is curb gatherings and introduce a curfew.

“The big issue is the large gatherings and the most important thing we should try to do is limit or ban large gatherings, also introduce the curfew system because they seem to help in the movement of people in the evenings,” Gray said.

“I would urge people to avoid big gatherings, limit their movement late at night. Any event enclosed with poor ventilation with many people will be a super-spreading event,” she added.

UCT’s professor of infectious diseases, Marc Mendelson, also calls on the government to limit large gatherings.

“South Africa needs to put stricter lockdown measures in place, especially around indoor and mass gatherings, to limit the spread of Covid-19. If the issue of gatherings can be addressed, it will reduce the possibility of a severe third wave.”

Meanwhile, Professor Francois Venter, an infectious diseases expert at Wits University, says South Africa needs to have a consistent risk mitigation strategy that stops the early wave from starting in the first place; and then, where people are forced to congregate indoors, they need to use masks.

Earlier this week, the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the Department of Health also called on the government to look at restricting gatherings.

The Western Cape health department has recommended similar strategies, with a particular focus on limiting gatherings at events such as funerals.