'We’ve got to control the virus where it is': Prof Salim Abdool Karim

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, chair of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee.
Prof Salim Abdool Karim, chair of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee.
Image: TREVOR SAMSON

Enforcing lockdown regulations already in place on social distancing and the wearing of masks will be critical to slowing the spread of Covid-19 in the Eastern and Western Cape.

That was the warning sounded by Prof Salim Abdool Karim, head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, on Thursday.

There has been a surge in infections in parts of the two provinces, just ahead of an expected influx of holiday visitors over the festive season. The national coronavirus command council (NCCC) met earlier this week to discuss tightening lockdown restrictions in the provinces — with the outcome of those deliberations still to be conveyed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We’ve got to control the virus where it is. We’ve got to reduce viral transmission in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape,” Abdool Karim told CapeTalk radio on Thursday.

“Most of the measures are there, they just need to be enforced. People just need to wear a mask - it’s one of our most powerful weapons because a significant portion of the patients don’t know they have the virus so the protection to us and themselves is through that mask.”

He said an influx of holiday visitors to the two provinces could see holidaymakers returning home infected to other parts of the country weeks later and “we may end up in January in the midst of a very substantial, national second wave”.

Abdool Karim was hopeful that both provinces could act swiftly to avoid super-spreading events and ensure residents complied with lockdown regulations aimed at reducing the spread of the virus before the middle of December.

“If the Western Cape wants to maintain and try to pull back the transmission it has got to prevent those kind of super-spreading events that amplify the virus spread,” he said.

BusinessLIVE reported on Wednesday that the government was set to implement tighter localised restrictions, including curbs on the sale of alcohol, in measures that seek to slow the spread of Covid-19 in selected hotspots.

The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) is opposed to a more stringent curfew being imposed in virus hotspots.

“We are certainly going to challenge any restriction that has been placed on the restaurant industry,” Rasa CEO Wendy Albert told Jacaranda FM.

We want all restaurants to let us know if any authority has been in touch with them in the last month advising them that there is Covid-19 in their establishment.” 

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