Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku told News24 the province might consider imposing ‘intermittent lockdowns’ in a bid to slow infections.
This formed part of the Gauteng provincial government’s preparations for a peak in Covid-19 cases.
He told the news agency that intermittent lockdowns would see the province opening and closing the economy for a particular period of time.
His comments follow Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s prediction on Sunday evening that Gauteng would emerge with the highest number of cases in the coming days, overtaking the Western Cape, which currently has over 60 000 cases.
Positive cases in South Africa rose yesterday by 6 130 to 144 264 (and 70 614 recoveries), while 73 deaths – most, 43, in the Western Cape – brought the toll to 2 529.
Cumulative cases are highest in the Western Cape (61 375, or 42.5% of the national sum), followed by Gauteng (39 841, or 27.6%) and Eastern Cape (26 195, or 18.2%).
Masuku said the Gauteng command council was considering various options, and would continue monitoring infections in the weeks to come.
He was quoted as saying one ‘possibility to look at’ would be ‘what we call intermittent lockdowns, where we open up for a particular period and close for a particular period of time’.
Another News24 report said Nelson Mandela Bay acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye believed the government should consider taking the metro back to level 4 lockdown restrictions.
He cited as reasons for this a crippled health sector, little adherence to social distancing regulations, and rising crime since the step-down to level 3.
The report said the metro had been ‘in the spotlight for its crisis-ridden hospitals’. It said front line workers at the city’s three major hospitals complained of overwork and understaffing.
Globally, concerns were raised with the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that the worst could be still to come in the Covid-19 pandemic.
The BBC reported that WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus would infect many more people if governments did not start to implement the right policies.
More than 10 million cases have been recorded worldwide since coronavirus emerged in China late last year, and the death toll has exceeded 500 000.
Dr Tedros told a virtual briefing yesterday: ‘We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.
‘Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.
‘With 10 million cases now and half a million deaths, unless we address the problems we’ve already identified at WHO, the lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity and the divided world which is actually helping the virus to spread… the worst is yet to come.’
He urged more governments to follow the examples of Germany, South Korea and Japan, which kept their outbreak in check through policies that included rigorous testing and tracing.