The sale of alcohol has been banned and the wearing of masks in public made mandatory in South Africa from Tuesday after a surge in coronavirus cases. This follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that pandemics far more deadly than Covid-19 may lie ahead.
Though the rollout of vaccines gathers pace in North America and Europe, the global caseload of COVID-19 is close to 81 million.
On Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a ban on the sale of alcohol and said face masks will be compulsory in public after the country became the first African nation to record one million cases.
“We have let down our guard, and unfortunately we are now paying the price,” Ramaphosa said, blaming “super-spreader” social events and an “extreme lack of vigilance over the holiday period” for the spike.
The President said data showed “excessive alcohol consumption” leads to an increase in trauma cases reported at hospitals, causing an “unnecessary” strain on public health facilities.
With the help of science and technology, huge progress has been made to study the virus and develop vaccines at record speed. But WHO senior advisor Bruce Aylward has cautioned that the world was far from ready for the next pandemic.
“We are into the second and third waves of this virus and we are still not prepared to deal with and manage those,” he said.
“While we are better prepared… we are not fully prepared for this one, let alone the next one.”
As of today, South Africa has recorded more than 21,000 COVID-19 related deaths.