The South African Medical Association (SAMA) is calling for tighter lockdown measures to be implemented as a matter of urgency as the country battles a third wave of coronavirus.

The call came as the National Coronavirus Command Council was meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa today on the country’s response to the pandemic.

The President will communicate the outcomes of that meeting during a live address on Tuesday night.

In the last seven days, the country recorded over 52 000 COVID-19 new infections.

President Ramaphosa concerned about the surge in infections:

SAMA Chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, has cautioned that further increases in the number of infections will severely impact healthcare facilities that are already taking strain.

“We are now at the point where you have to tell the patient walk into casualty and tell them you feel very sick. Our own colleagues will tell us there are no beds and don’t let the patient come here, send them elsewhere. And it took us a week and a half to get into the same mess that we have been seeing during December. It didn’t even take us four weeks,” she says.

“Well SAMA has said right from the very beginning it’s not enough, we should do much better. Even if you try now to block the taxi says you are going to take their livelihood, the restaurants are going to say that we are going to take their livelihoods away from them. I don’t know what people want us to do. And in the meantime you want me to treat you if you are sick? How do I treat you, if I can’t admit you in hospital?”

Dr Coetzee says they have also noted a delay in obtaining approvals from medical schemes for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. She says in the private sector, there’s a delay in asking medical schemes to approve patients that need oxygen urgently.

“It takes us nearly a day before we get approvals from the medical schemes. So either they are inundated with requests or they are also not working fast enough to help and assist us, because there is no beds,” says Coetzee.

On the other hand, the National Liquor Traders Association is hoping government won’t ban the sale of liquor when the President addresses the nation tonight.

It is calling on government to work with business and civil society to improve COVID-19 compliance in order to avoid restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

“The liquor industry has taken the initiative and pulled out all stops to ensure that there is maximum compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols instead of simply leaving it to government to manage. this model can work in other sectors too if government works with business and civil society to get the massage across,” says the association’s Convener, Lucky Ntimane.

The Watchdog discusses the third wave: