JOHANNESBURG: In light of the shrinking COVID-19 cases, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the country's national state of disaster would be terminated at midnight on Monday.
"While the pandemic is not over, and while the virus remains among us, these conditions no longer require that we remain in the national state of disaster. Going forward, the pandemic will be managed in terms of the National Health Act," he announced in a televised address on Monday.
After 750 days under the national state of disaster to combat the pandemic, Ramaphosa said the government decided to end the national state of disaster. The declaration of the national state of disaster in March 2020 empowered the government to take the measures that prevented many more people from becoming severely ill and saved countless lives, Ramaphosa said.
The Disaster Management Act provides that certain elements of the regulations may remain in place for a limited period for "post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation," he said. According to the president, South Africa has entered a new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic. "Although we recorded a far higher number of infections in the fourth wave than in each of the previous waves, there were relatively fewer cases of severe illness, hospitalization, and death."
Ramaphosa said certain transitional provisions would remain in place for 30 days following the termination of the national state of disaster to ensure necessary public health precautions and other services were not interrupted while the new regulations in terms of the National Health Act come into effect.
The transitional measures would include the wearing of masks in indoor public spaces, number limitations for indoor and outdoor venues, proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for international travelers entering the country. And the 350 Rand (24 U.S. dollars) Social Relief Grant introduced due to the effects of the pandemic would be continued.
South Africa has been the worst affected African country during the pandemic. Figures released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Monday showed the country has recorded 3,667,560 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 100,052 deaths.