South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed restrictions for two weeks to combat a surge in the highly contagious Corona virus Delta variant.
The worst-hit country on the continent is facing a massive resurgence of infection, the President said in a televised address to the nation on Sunday.
The health facilities are stretched to the limit. ICU beds are in short supply, he said, as he placed the country on level four, just one level below a full lockdown.
Mr Ramaphosa banned all gatherings, except for funerals where numbers will be capped at 50 and also ordered a ban on the sale of alcohol.
Eateries and restaurants will not be allowed to serve sit-down meals, and will only be allowed to sell food for take-away or delivery.
A night time curfew has been lengthened by an hour – starting at 9 p.m. till 4 a.m., while all schools should be shut by Friday.
Authorities said, the peak of the third wave — fuelled by the Delta variant will surpass that of earlier waves as the country struggles to quickly roll out vaccinations.
South Africa now counts 19,28,897 Corona virus cases after recording 15,036 new cases on Sunday, a drop from the previous day when 18,762 new infections were diagnosed.
The COVID-19 death count stands at 59,900.
The country’s vaccination drive has been slow. Around 2.7 million people have been immunized since February.
But, Mr Ramaphosa said, the inoculation exercise has gained momentum.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that the Delta variant had reached at least 85 countries.