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Cabinet approves extension of national state of disaster until mid January

The government cannot rule out the possibility of tighter lockdown restrictions. “We will be guided by science,” says minister in the presidency

The Covid-19 state of disaster will be in place through to the new year.
The Covid-19 state of disaster will be in place through to the new year.
Image: 123RF / thomasstockhausen

As Covid-19 cases spike with the emergence of the Omicron variant, minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele says the cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster to January 15. 

This follows a recommendation by the national coronavirus command council (NCCC), in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

“The national state of disaster is aimed at responding to the special circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gungubele.                                                                

He was addressing the media on the outcomes of a cabinet briefing on Wednesday.   

On mandatory vaccines, Gungubele said there had been no recommendations made by the NCCC in this regard. 

“It’s so clear to a number of us that you need a policy that encourages vaccination and you need a policy that discourages cynicism towards vaccines.”   

Asked if the government can guarantee South Africans a festive season without strict lockdown restrictions, Gungubele responded: “We can’t do that. We said we will follow science, we will follow objective reality, we will respond to circumstances. We cannot say there will be no lockdown when you do not know what the situation will be.”

Gungubele also pleaded with the nation to get vaccinated ahead of the festive season. 

“While most of us will be taking a well-deserved festive break, we must remember that Covid-19 does not take a holiday. A safe holiday period for you and your loved ones can be guaranteed by a simple jab at your nearest vaccination site.  

Gungubele said vaccination would also help boost SA’s battered economy.

“Vaccination does not only help us fight back against the deadly pandemic by preventing serious illness, hospitalisation or even death, but it also reduces the health risks posed by future variants.” 

He also emphasised the importance of adhering to non-pharmaceutical measures including wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, and regularly washing hands with soap and water or using a 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

“We can also prevent the spread of the virus by avoiding superspreader events such as festivals and parties. Together we can fight back by being responsible and always acting in the best interests of protecting the health of our loved ones and our nation against Covid-19.” 

TimesLIVE



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