President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday evening that South Africa had scaled through COVID-19’s “fierce and destructive storm,” as he announced a move to alert level one.
“With the further progress we have made as infections have come down, we are now ready for a new phase in our response to the pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.
“It is time to move what will become our new normal… it is now time to remove as many of the remaining restrictions on economic and social acitivy as is reasonably safe to do.”
After getting advice from different stakeholders, “cabinet decided this morning that the country should now move to level one.”
The alert level one takes effect from Sunday midnight, September 20.
“Even as restrictions have eased… there has been a gradual but steady decline in new infections, hospitalisations and deaths… We have succeeded in overcoming the worst phase of this pandemic,” the president said in his address to the nation.
The recovery rate now stands at 89% while the average daily number of infections dropped from an average of 12,000 per day to 2,000 per day.
But the president warned that “by any measure, we are still in the midst of a deadly epidemic.”
It was a breakthrough that South Africa didn’t get hit by a second surge in infections.
“We want to avoid that,” said Ramaphosa.
“Due to the decline in new infections… We now have sufficient testing capacity to expand the criteria for testing.”
Widespread testing and screening for the virus, as well as contributing to the development of a vaccine, form an important part of government’s COVID-19 response. pic.twitter.com/aFSxpDdhOt
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) September 16, 2020