Gauteng surge poses risk to ‘lives and livelihoods’ Ramaphosa on Covid-19 third wave

Over the recent time, the increasing Covid-19 cases in Gauteng show no sign of slowing down and pose a threat to both lives and livelihoods, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

The country is in the midst of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Gauteng is “by far the hardest hit”, the president stressed in his weekly newsletter on Monday.

This week the number of new cases exceeded the peak in both previous waves, and it has not started to decline yet. As a result, hospitals are reaching capacity, and healthcare workers are exhausted.

Gauteng looks small on the map. But it is home to one in five South Africans and two-fifths of our economy.

“As an economic hub, many people travel to and from this province. We need to turn this around urgently, or lives and livelihoods will be seriously under threat,” the president said.

Ramaphosa described the climb in new cases as “extraordinarily rapid and steep over the past few weeks”. He said cases had jumped from below 800 in early April to more than 13 000 in the past week – a fifteen-fold increase.

The surge in cases brought with it challenges to the economy, Ramaphosa said.

Workers have to isolate or quarantine, people stop going out for recreation or shopping, tourism comes to a standstill, and workplaces have to spend more money to prevent infections.

It is incorrect to speak about a trade-off between lives and livelihoods. Rather, we need to invest our time, effort and resources to control the pandemic to see a payoff, in terms of both falling case numbers, reduced deaths and economic recovery.

The president urged South Africans to avoid social gatherings, wear face masks and wash or sanitize their hands.

We may be tired of this persistent enemy, but it is not yet tired of us. The threat to health and lives is evident as people become ill and some die.

So we must do what we can, as individuals, as families and communities, as unions and employers, and as government, to limit the toll, ” he added.

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