South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced the closure of border posts with neighboring countries for entry and departure as cases of the new coronavirus variant rises, reported CGTN Africa.
However, South African nationals, permanent residents or persons with other valid visas, diplomats, departing foreign nationals are exempted from the ban.
In a national broadcast, Mr. Ramaphosa said that the coronavirus pandemic is now at its most devastating stage, with the number of new cases, deaths, and hospital admissions now at the highest point since the coronavirus was first detected in March 2020.
“The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating,” he said. “The number of new infections, the number of hospital admissions, and the deaths that continue to take place have become far higher than it has ever been since the first case was recorded in our country in March of 2020.”
The South African president clarified that the country will continue to remain on the adjusted level 3 lockdown until it was deemed safe to remove some of the restrictions including the ban on the sale of alcohol and a prohibition on public gatherings.
“It’s necessary to keep the alert level 3 measures in place until we have passed the peak of new infections and we are certain that the rate of transmission has fallen enough to allow us to safely ease the current restrictions,” Mr. Ramaphosa said.
The South African president said that the restrictions will be reassessed when the current peak of infections eases. As far as the coronavirus vaccine is concerned, he said that his administration is working on ensuring that 20 million doses of vaccines are administered in the first quarter of this year.
Frontline health workers will be the first to be vaccinated in the first phase. As more vaccines arrive, essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers, and other frontline personnel will get the vaccine.
South Africa has reported over 1,246,000 coronavirus cases and 33,579 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.