South Africa Avoiding Lockdown Despite Spike in COVID-19 Cases

South Africa recorded more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, nearly double the number from one week earlier. The government is making a renewed push for people to get vaccinated, but so far is avoiding new lockdown measures, in an effort to protect the economy.

Coronavirus cases are rising dramatically in South Africa with over 113,000 people currently infected.

Experts say the omicron variant discovered in South Africa last month is most likely driving the latest wave.

But Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele told reporters today that the government is trying to avoid stricter lockdown measures.

“The damage the restrictions caused last year, level five and so on, thousands of business that stopped and the number of jobs that have been lost. The attitude the government is adopting is find the best possible way of navigating whilst ensuring that… the economy moves,” said Gungubele.

The South African government is championing vaccinations in order to protect more people from severe illness.

The efforts appear to be working, with more than 133,000 people receiving a shot Wednesday. It means 43 percent of adults have at least had one dose.

Gungubele said vaccinations are key to protecting lives as the government tries to protect both public health and the economy.

“You need to find a balance between the livelihood and lives, because these are two side of the same coin and that coin is life. When one of them collapse, the life collapse,” said Gungubele.

Still, hospitalizations are increasing, with over 300 people admitted Wednesday.

Minister Gungubele said the government is closely monitoring admissions to ensure facilities don’t end up overwhelmed. “So far the reports we’re getting is that there is no red flag in that.”

Thirty-six people died Wednesday of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total death toll to over 90,000.

South African health officials are expected to release more information on their findings about the current wave and the omicron variant on Friday.

Source: Voice of America

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