South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the government will assign levels of lockdown restrictions for each of the 50 districts depending upon the number of active coronavirus infections there, reported Reuters.
Mkhize said that the National Coronavirus Command Council, the government body overseeing efforts to contain the virus, will review the restrictions for each district every two weeks. He added that the country was moving away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
It currently remains unclear if there would be restrictions on movement between districts, which vary widely in size and in population.
The South African health minister said the district-based approach reflected the need to balance the risks of continuing economic restrictions as it is likely that ending the restrictions abruptly might lead to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
“Depending on the average active cases per 100,000 people, districts will be individually assigned levels of lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus,” Mkhize said.
He also said the government is working to increase the number of beds in hospitals across the country and that cluster outbreaks in and around Cape Town were driving infections in two of the most badly affected Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces
As of Thursday, South Africa had recorded 12,739 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Almost 70% of those were in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The total number of deaths has now reached 238 and there have been 5,676 recoveries.
The South African government had imposed a lockdown in the country in March in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown restrictions were slightly eased starting May 1 when the country moved to a five-level alert system where five represents the most restrictions.
Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that the parts of the country with the highest rates of infection, including metropolitan areas, will continue to be under stringent restrictions into June.