It’s time to end South Africa’s state of disaster: premier

Western Cape premier Alan Winde says that the national government’s move to end the curfew should go a step further and put an end to the national state of disaster altogether.

Winde said that the end of the curfew was a critical move to help ensure that businesses – particularly the tourism industry – could continue and the country moved toward being completely open and back to normal.

However, he said president Cyril Ramaphosa needs to go a step further and end the national state of disaster entirely.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have based our position on data, and it is clear from our fourth wave health platform data that we have the capacity to manage the Covid-19 pandemic without this very extreme measure,” he said.

“Overall, according to our data, the risk of (hospital) admission is 30% lower in the fourth wave when compared to the third wave, and the risk of admission for severe disease is 60% less during the fourth wave than during the third wave. Our data is also showing that vaccines are highly effective in preventing death.”

A key marker remains oxygen usage, Winde said, adding that the increase in oxygen consumption in the province remains below 50%. All available data pointed to the pandemic being manageable without extreme measures.

In lieu of the national state of disaster, the Western Cape Government proposes a five-point plan, that would normalise the Covid-19 response in South Africa:

  1. End the National State of Disaster to grow the economy and create jobs.
  2. Enable Provincial and Local Government responses through an established traffic-light warning system, based on pre-determined measures of the health platform capacity. This will enable provincial, differentiated approaches in the future based on a provincial government’s capacity to respond to increased pressures.
  3. Maintain healthcare capacity by increasing budget allocations to Provincial Governments. This will enable maintenance of standby field hospital capacity, healthcare worker capacity and oxygen capacity should it be required in the future.
  4. Empower people by continuing with behaviour change campaigns that provide knowledge on non-pharmaceutical safety practices. Residents must be given the agency to protect themselves and others.
  5. Increase vaccinations through more pop-up and satellite vaccination sites, which work better by improving convenience and access.

“The reality is that we have to learn to live with the virus, without imposing measures that will exacerbate the second pandemic of unemployment and hunger, which also costs lives,” Winde said.

“While the removal of the curfew is very welcomed news, it means an even greater responsibility on residents to ensure that we protect those at risk.”

Read: New level 1 lockdown rules for South Africa – including no more curfew