Government is to begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal to place most of South Africa on Alert Level 3 by the end of May.
President Ramaphosa announced this in an address to the nation last night on South Africa’s response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The president added that, as part of the proposal, those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection would, however, remain on level 4.
Further announcements will be made after the completion of the consultations.
The president indicated that government will also soon be announcing certain changes to level 4 regulations to expand permitted business activities in the retail space and ecommerce and reduce restrictions on exercise.
The president reiterated that if government lifts the “lockdown too abruptly and too quickly, we risk a rapid and unmanageable surge in infections”.
Government will, therefore, continue to proceed cautiously, informed by the best available evidence and guided by the advice of local and international experts.
“Our goal is to steadily increase economic activity while putting measures in place to reduce the transmission of the virus and provide adequate care for those who become infected and need treatment.”
The president highlighted that, by delaying the spread of the disease, government has been able to strengthen the capacity of the health system and put in place wide-ranging public health programmes to better manage the inevitable increase in infections.
Currently, approximately 25,000 additional beds are available for quarantine.
The president emphasized that, at the moment, infections are mostly concentrated in a few metropolitan municipalities and districts in South Africa.
“It is important that we maintain stringent restrictions in these areas and restrict travel out of these areas to parts of the country with lower rates of infection.”
Government also wants to implement a screening and testing programme targeted to areas where people are more likely to be infected.
“This will involve the identification of infection hotspots using a combination of technology, surveillance data and epidemiological mapping, enabling the rapid deployment of dedicated screening and testing teams to these areas.”
Cabinet is also busy drawing up a clear strategy for economic recovery as part of the third phase of government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis.