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SA remains at adjacent level 1. Vaccinate, and adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, advises the Health Minister.

As South Africa’s lockdown restrictions remain at adjusted level 1, Health Minister Joe Phaahla encourages caution and adherence to COVID-19 prevention and treatment measures during this holiday season.

According to Dr. Phaahla, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) considered several recommendations brought forward by the Department of Health as part of safety measures against the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak over the festive season.

He said there are many social gatherings, including parties and weddings, that can be extremely super-spreader events that carry a high risk of social transmission.

In light of the current situation, Minister Phaahla reiterated the ministry’s recommendation that travellers, especially those unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and coming from declared hotshots, get vaccinated before hitting the road to protect their families and friends.

Dr. Phaahla said it is imperative that people who plan to attend large social events during this time, such as parties and weddings, adhere to COVID-19 regulations and receive their vaccines.

He said the Council has directed the department to closely monitor the rising COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, mortality, and recovery rates, which are mostly caused by the Omicron variant, which is causing the country to experience its fourth wave.

According to scientific studies, Phaahla said the virus is spreading faster than in previous waves, but hospitalizations and deaths remain low.

Minister Phaahla says to make necessary recommendations to the NCCC in the best interest of people’s lives, his department will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout this period, including infection rates, hospitalisations, mortality rates, and recovery rates.

In addition to maintaining adequate vaccination sites, Dr. Phaahla confirmed the government is working with provinces to set up pop-up vaccination sites in public places like malls, open sporting events, and roadblocks.

“We also urge public transport operators to enforce compliance with mask wearing at all times, hand sanitising, and opening windows to allow sufficient ventilation,” said the Minister.

“The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has reflected on the current COVID-19 situation and deliberated on several recommendations from the Department of Health as part of safety measures to prevent a possible surge in COVID-19 infections during the festive season, which is associated with all sorts of social gatherings like parties and weddings, which can be‘super spreader’ events that carry a huge risk of transmission of the virus,” said Dr. Phaahla.

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