Phaahla: Government to Decide on Whether to Increase Lockdown & Restriction Levels Amid Spread of Omicron Variant

Health Minister Joe Phaahla says government will decide on whether to increase the COVID-19 lockdown or restrictions levels as more information becomes available on the Omicron variant and hospital admissions unfold across the country. 

Phaahla gave an update on government’s coronavirus response and vaccination plan on Friday morning.

The minister said weekly COVID-19 infections in Gauteng surged by 400% in the first week of December.

Phaahla says South African scientists will continue, as they have done in the past, to conduct high quality research to understand this new variant, and quickly share the information locally and with the world.

He says government will work hard with the provinces to ensure hospital preparedness, which will include flexible, agile bed surge planning, ensuring the availability of health care workers and resources such as oxygen.

Phaahla says it is important to reinforce what the public can do to protect themselves and those around them.

“Restrictions have been effective at stemming the rise in increased cases so that our hospitals can better cope with the influx of admissions but have had severe economic consequences, thus a careful assessment of risks is needed. Government will also continue to take advice around implementation of mandatory vaccination.”

Phaahla says the non-medical interventions like the wearing of masks, social distancing and ventilation among others are the most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19.

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