Phaahla calls for compliance with COVID-19 health regulations during festive season

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Health Minister Doctor Joe Phaahla says the National Coronavirus Command Council has directed his department to closely monitor rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations mortality and recovery rates.

They are largely being driven by the new coronavirus variant, Omicron.

Dr Phaahla says the council has retained lockdown restrictions at Adjusted Alert Level One.

In a statement, he has called for responsible behaviour and compliance to COVID-19 prevention and treatment protocols during the festive season which is associated with gatherings that can be super spreader events.

“According to scientific studies, this virus is spreading quicker than in previous waves, but the rates of hospitalisations and deaths remain relatively low.”

“Therefore, it is on our hands to maintain the current break in the clouds into a lasting sunshine in order to have safer and joyous Christmas, and prosperous New Year celebrations,” says Phaahla.

“We call upon all travellers, especially those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated coming from areas declared hotspots, to get vaccinated before hitting the roads to protect their families and friends they will be visiting during this period associated with large social gatherings like parties and weddings, which can be ‘super spreader’ events that carry a huge risk of transmission of the virus”, adds Phaahla.

Phaala says getting vaccinated and following all safety precautions, will not only reduce the spread of the virus but also take the pressure off healthcare professionals.

The Health Department says it will work with provinces to ensure that sufficient vaccination sites remain operational, including pop-up sites at some public places like malls, open community sporting-based venues and roadblocks.

The department also urges public transport operators to enforce compliance with mask-wearing at all times, hand sanitising and open windows to allow sufficient ventilation.

Professor Adrian Puren, Acting Executive Director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases explains more about the Omicron variant and vaccinations:

South Africa’s COVID-19 stats 

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported 26 976 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3 231 031.

This increase represents a 32.2% positivity rate. The majority of new cases today were recorded in Gauteng (30%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (22%).

A further 54 COVID-19 related deaths have also been reported, bringing total fatalities to 90 226.

20 436 207 tests have been conducted in both the public and private sectors.

SA’s latest COVID-19 stats: