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In recent news, England is the latest country in Europe who will be heading into a second lockdown and who will be imposing new national restrictions. Everything except essential shops and education settings could be closed under the new measures.  Across the European continent, countries are heading back into different forms of lockdown in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19. France, Germany, Belgium and Greece have become the latest countries to announce second lockdowns. Increased measures have also been announced in Spain and Italy, among others.

In recent days, our health minister Zweli Mkhize has warned about a marked increase in new Covid-19 infections as a result of declining adherence to measures such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand-washing, this off the back of many European countries who are seeing a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus, and which countries are heading back into lockdown. 

It may be that the National Covid-19 Command Council, having anticipated that there may be a resurgence of Covid-19 has extended the National State of Disaster within South Africa. Whilst a second wave of the infection is being experienced in Europe and elsewhere throughout the world, where England, France, Netherlands and Spain have introduced a new round of curfews as a means to contain transmission, such interventions might well be effective in these and other countries, especially if they are able to support a lockdown from a societal and economic perspective.

The context in South Africa is however different. It is evident that while South Africa’s hard lockdown at an early stage of the pandemic initially slowed transmission, this was uneven and did not manage to stop transmission. There is even less chance now of being able achieve sustained suppression of virus circulation in South Africa through a further lockdown, than was the case when circulation initially started. Evidence has shown that lockdown alone will not eliminate or control the spread of the virus unless it is incorporated with an efficient system of testing suspected cases of Covid-19 and ensuring their isolation, as well as exercising a high level of contact tracing and their proper quarantine.

The impending second wave in South Africa is believed to be due to the virus having new opportunities to spread since the reopening of the economy.  What has emerged is that new infections are occurring in all groups and sectors of society and in remote rural areas, meaning the second wave is likely to be much more generally distributed than the first, which initially hit urban centres.There is seemingly no escape from a second wave of the virus, and there is no reason that South Africa can expect to avoid what is happening in Europe, and other countries throughout the world.

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Author – Kate Bailey – Hill

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