South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday he plans to further ease restrictions imposed to curb the new coronavirus, but places with the most infections likely would remain into June on “alert level 4” of a five-level system.
Ramaphosa imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in late March, with restrictions only easing slightly from May 1 when the country moved to a five-level alert system where five represents the most restrictions.
On May 1 it started to gradually ease confinement measures to level four — allowing citizens to exercise outdoors and certain businesses to partially resume operations.
“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on the proposal that, by the end of May, most of the country should be placed on alert level three,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address.
South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus cases on the continent, with 12,074 infections recorded to date and 219 fatalities.
The government is staggering the easing of confinement measures to strike a balance between curbing the spread of COVID-19 and safeguarding the economy.
South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus struck in March.
Ramaphosa said the decision to continue loosening the lockdown was also based on a “low and stable” percentage of positive cases among tested samples.
The rate of confirmed infections in South Africa stands around 181 cases per one million citizens.
“By contrast, countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Singapore have between 2,400 and 4,600 coronavirus cases per million people,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa will further loosen a nationwide coronavirus lockdown later this month as the number of confirmed cases crept over 12,000, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Wednesday.
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