Delta Variant of COVID-19

South Africa to tighten Coronavirus lockdown measures as Delta variant spreads

*South African Government urges tighter Coronavirus restrictions to curtail the spread, which health experts say is ‘highly transmissible’

*Business groups kick, saying the further tightening of lockdown restraints would hurt the country’s economic recovery

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As the Delta variant of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reportedly spreads like wildfire, Mrs. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, South Africa’s Acting Health Minister, has disclosed that the virus variant is dominant in the country, fuelling a third wave of infections that may prompt the government again, to tighten lockdown restrictions further.

ConsumerConnect reports Mrs. Kubayi-Ngubane, who stated this in an online press conference Saturday, June 26, 2021, said that the current resurgence of the disease could be worse than the second wave after studies discovered the prevalence of the new strain first detected in India.

The Acting Health Minister noted the new variant is driving infections in South Africa’s commercial hub of Gauteng in the Southern African country.

The Minister declared: “We have a new variant that is prevalent in the country. This new variant is called Delta.”

Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, sat the same media briefing, stated that the Delta variant that’s been running rampant in South Africa is 30% to 60% more transmissible than other strains, including the Beta variant, first identified in the African nation last year.

Lessels said: “Preliminary estimates from genomic data and epidemiological studies suggest Delta may be significantly more transmissible than other variants of concern, including Beta.”

According to the authorities, the strict lockdown measures initially imposed in South Africa helped it get through its first two waves of the Coronavirus without major hospitals having to turn people away.

However, it was learnt that a comparatively slow vaccination rollout  in the country means only about 4% of the population have received any COVID-19 Vaccine jabs, just as the arrival of mid-winter leads more people to gather indoors.

Accordingly, Koleka Mlisana, Head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, said the rise in infections meant the government needed to urgently consider tightening lockdown restrictions including on movement of people in South Africa.

Mlisana noted: “We are going to make sure that we get onto hard restrictions, tighter restrictions because obviously what actually increases transmissions is person-to-person.

“It’s going to mean we need to be very decisive.”

Meanwhile, as the South African mulls stricter measures in order to curb the spread of the Elta variant of COVID-19, business groups an organisation have kicked against the move.

Business people in a report stated that South Africa’s businesses say the further tightening of lockdown restrictions would hurt the economic recovery, Sunday Times report said.

Martin Kingston, Vice President of Business Unity South Africa, the country’s biggest business grouping, also said in the report, that further measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus would need to take into account the impact on the country’s still-fragile growth,

South Africa can’t afford a complete shutdown, Kingston said.

He also noted: “There are significant impacts in terms of reduction in gross domestic product if we go through level 3 to level 4 restrictions.

“There is obviously scope for higher levels of intervention, but that would also have a potentially meaningful impact upon economic activity.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to address the country Sunday evening on government plans to check Covid-19 infections, report said.

The country, which initially imposed a strict lockdown, is seeking to prevent a third wave of cases fueled by the more contagious Delta variant, Kubayi-Ngubane said Saturday.

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