The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is calling for a complete ban on gatherings in Gauteng, as the number of daily COVID-19 infections continues to soar in the province.

Virologist and Vice President for Research at the Council – Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele – says it should also be urgently considered to discourage inter-provincial travel.

“For the Gauteng Province, in particular, I think we could have even stricter lockdowns because we definitely need to counter the number of new cases. I would love to see all gatherings banned completely, except funerals. The other area that perhaps we could look at, and look at it in a different way, is the schools. It is not really to say that schools should be closed, but the schools that could do online teaching, should be encouraged to do that. When the schools are closed, inter-provincial travel should be discouraged. It will be difficult to ban that completely, but it can be discouraged.”

Mphahlele says every effort must be taken to prevent South Africa from experiencing a similar crisis as in India, where the number of COVID-19 related deaths surpassed 380 000.

“We just don’t know how these new cases will unfold. It could be that we find ourselves in a situation like the one we have seen in India where things get out of control, hospitals are over-burdened and they cant cope with new patients…we have to minimise that at all cost.”