Cabinet has approved the extension of the national State of Disaster by one month, in terms of section 27(5) (c) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (57 of 2002).
This was announced by Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele during a media briefing on Thursday after Cabinet met the day before.
“These measures continue to assist in the country’s fight to stop the spread of Covid-19,” the minister said.
State of Disaster
The national State of Disaster will be gazetted and officially extended from 15 November to 15 December by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
As of Thursday, South Africa has been in lockdown for at least 600 days following the declaration of the national State of Disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2020.
The country is currently on adjusted level 1 lockdown, which has eased restrictions on gatherings and people’s movements.
Responding to a question posed to him in the National Assembly in September, Ramaphosa said the State of Disaster would be lifted only once regulatory measures for the prevention and spread of Covid-19 were in place or once there was no longer a need for the State of Disaster.
The multiple extensions have come under fire.
Many have argued the Disaster Management Act gives government unfettered freedom to act as it wishes by extending the State of Disaster without parliamentary oversight.
Covid-19 in SA
Meanwhile, health experts have warned that South Africa is approaching the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, and it is not a question of if, but when the fourth wave will peak.
However, the fourth wave is likely to peak lower than the previous third, and cases may start rising towards the end of December.
On Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 1,275 new Covid-19 infections in the country.
This is the highest number of Covid-19 infections that has been recorded since 6 October, just after the country exited the third wave.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Sunday said the Department of Health would advise government against imposing a harder lockdown ahead of the festive season.
Currently, just over 25 million vaccines have been administered across the country.
Government is aiming to get 70% of the population immunised to avoid a festive season lockdown.
New variant on the loose
Scientists are warning that a new Covid-19 variant, with a “high amount of spike mutations”, could lead to widespread outbreaks of the virus.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first detected with three cases in Botswana in November, with six cases confirmed in South Africa soon after.
One case has since been recorded in Hong Kong in a traveller returning from South Africa.
Additional reporting by Gareth Cotterell