The Minister of Health has called for responsible behaviour and stronger compliance with COVID-19 prevention and treatment protocols during the festive season after the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) retains the lockdown restrictions at Adjusted Alert Level 1.

According to Joe Phaahla, the NCCC has reflected on the current COVID-19 situation and deliberated on several recommendations tabled by the Department of Health as part of safety measures to prevent a possible surge in COVID-19 infections associated with social gatherings.

Phaahla said the council has directed the department to closely monitor the rising COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations, mortality and recovery rates, which are largely driven by the Omicron variant, which is contributing to the fourth wave in the country.

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The Minister added that it is in South Africa’s hands to maintain the current break in the clouds into lasting sunshine, in order to have a safer and joyous Christmas and prosperous New Year.

“We call upon all travellers, especially those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated coming from areas declared hotspots, to get vaccinated before hitting the roads.

“This is to protect their families and friends they will be visiting during this period associated with large social gatherings like parties and weddings, which can be ‘super spreader’ events that carry a huge risk of transmission of the virus,” Phaahla said.

In the meantime, the department will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout this period in terms of daily infection cases, hospitalisations, mortality and recovery rates, and make the necessary recommendations to the NCCC in the best interest of people’s lives and livelihoods.

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