South Africa lifts night-curfew as COVID-19 cases decrease: Government officials
South Africa, on Thursday, lifted its overnight curfew rules which were in place from midnight to 4:00 am. According to government officials, the country's fourth COVID-19 wave, driven by the Omicron strain, has passed its peak. "All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave," said the South African presidency in a statement.
Why does it matter?
- The highly transmissible Omicron variant has triggered a global pandemic rebound at the end of the year.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Delta and Omicron strains will cause a "tsunami" of cases and disrupt the health systems.
- To note, during the pandemic, South Africa documented about 3.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 90,000 fatalities.
On what basis were the changes made?
South Africa revised the nighttime curfew rules based on the pandemic's trajectory and vaccination levels in the country, said Mondli Gungubele, a minister in the presidency, in a statement. Currently, South Africa is at the first stage (the lowest) of its five-stage COVID-19 alert levels.
What did the government data reveal?
The number of confirmed infections for the week ending on December 25 was 89,781, decreasing from 127,753 the previous week, according to data from the Department of Health. However, a slight increase in COVID-19 deaths was observed during this rise, said the presidency. "While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalization than in previous waves," it added.
What other restrictions were eased in South Africa?
Moreover, instead of closing at 11:00 pm, businesses will be able to sell alcohol under standard licensing rules. In public places, masks are still required, and public meetings are limited to 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors. Officials stated the country's National Coronavirus Command Council will keep an eye on the situation and make adjustments if necessary.
What is the scenario in rest of the world?
For the second straight day, France has reported over 200,000 cases. Due to an increase in COVID-19 infections in India, the government has tightened restrictions, including night curfews. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry Director-General of Israel said a fourth COVID-19 vaccine had been approved. Also, the time of self-isolation for asymptomatic COVID-19 and contact cases in Portugal has been shortened from 10 to seven days.