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National Coronavirus Command Council to meet next week to re-evaluate SA’s lockdown restrictions

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Health Minister Joe Phaahla says the National Coronavirus Command Council is expected to meet next week to re-evaluate the country’s lockdown restrictions as cases continue to escalate.

Phaahla says weekly Gauteng COVID-19 infections went up by 400% in the first week of December. However, most of those admitted to hospital were showing mild symptoms.

Gauteng continues to account for the majority of new infections as the omicron variant sweeps through the country.

Active cases are just over 133 000. Despite the increased number of cases, it’s not clear if there’ll be adjustments to lockdown regulations.

“The NCCC will be Tuesday or Wednesday make recommendations based on what we are reporting today, we will also depend on our ministerial advisory committee so as for what kind of changes to level 1 or whether proposals to either to go to level 2, we are not in a position to say so.”

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla updates on COVID-19 response, vaccination programme:

‘Vaccines appear effective’

Phaahla says the current vaccines appear effective and 70% of those admitted to hospital were unvaccinated. And it’s believed most are showing mild symptoms.

What we’ll be doing in the next few weeks scientists will continue as they’ve done in the past to conduct quality research to understand this variant and share the information as quickly as possible.

“Our scientist advisors continue to provide our government guidance on what kind of restrictions we would need if we have to impose further restrictions, expansion of vaccination and also the introduction of new treatments.”

At Steve Biko hospital many patients tested positive for COVID-19, however, only a few were on oxygen.

While millions have been vaccinated, vaccine hesitancy remains a concern. The minister says it’s not yet clear what is driving high infection rates among children.

The Minister has urged young adults especially to vaccinate, saying it’s the best protection available.

 

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