An emergency paramedic wearing full COVID-19 coronavirus personal protective equipment (PPE) flashes the victory sign as they arrive with a patient at the Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth, on July 10, 2020. - Ambulances have to queue before patients suspected of having symptoms related to the COVID-19 coronavirus are triaged and admitted. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

by Dumisani Sigogo

Durban- South Africa has tightened the regulations used to manage the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.

While the country will remain on lockdown level 3 amid a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced drastic measures in an effort to preserve lives and limit the rise in infections.

South Africa is now among the top ten countries that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 globally. By Sunday, the African economic powerhouse had 276 242 confirmed cases, of which 4 079 had resulted in related deaths.

In his address Sunday night, Ramaphosa said while the country will remain on lockdown level 3,COVID-19 regulations were being tightened.

The tightened regulations include a re-ban on the sale, dispensing, and distribution of alcohol as well as the reintroduction of a curfew between 9 pm and 4 am. Inter-provincial movement using local minibus taxis will remain at 70% capacity, local taxis will now be able to ferry 100% loads. However, operators will be expected to follow new risk mitigation protocols related to masks, vehicle sanitizing and open windows.

Regulations on the wearing of masks, which have been mandatory, will be strengthened.

Ramaphosa said: “As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided. This is a fight to save every life, and we need to save every bed.”

The President said employers, shop owners and managers, public transport operators, and managers and owners of any other public building are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask.

“All workplaces and all institutions need to ensure that there is a designated Coronavirus official responsible for making sure that all regulations and all precautions are strictly adhered to,” he said.

He said Cabinet has resorted to this measure in an effort to conserve hospital capacity as evidence had illustrated that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure on the country’s hospitals.

“Most of these and other trauma injuries occur at night,” the President said.

Cabinet has resorted to these as both public and private hospitals were beginning to take the strain.

The President expressed concern at reports of infected people being turned away from health facilities due to a lack of beds or essential supplies.

“This is deeply worrying. It means we have to move with even greater urgency to strengthen our strategy to manage the peak of infections.”