The chairperson of the COVID-19 ministerial advisory committee, Prof Salim Abdool Karim, has said that South Africa is now in its “post-COVID new normal”, but has expressed concerns over a potential resurgence in cases.
With Johns Hopkins University recording the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 650,749, Prof Karim appeared on 702 on Monday. He said that he believes we are now experiencing the new way of life and there is no going back to the way things were.
“We are now in the post-COVID new normal. It is not the old normal and people shouldn’t think we are going back to the old normal. We will have to find a way to adapt to the new normal,” he said, as reported by TimesLIVE.
He did, however, say that South Africans still need to proceed with extreme caution if and when the country moves to Level 1 lockdown restrictions. He emphasised the challenge that we will be facing when it comes to resuming large gatherings.
“Where there is a large number of people, it’s not always easy to implement social distancing and mask-wearing and so on. In those settings, we have to have a situation where we reduce our risk of super-spreading events,” he said. “For example, there is no reason why restaurants should not be open even though they carry risk, as long as we have certain restrictions like the number that can be there, the distancing that is maintained between staff, etc.”
Karim also believes that the laws restricting the sale of alcohol and that enforce a night-time curfew have now served their purpose and are no longer necessary.
“They were put in to protect hospitals, we don’t have an issue with hospital space and beds at the moment. Those are less critical at this point and not needed,” he concluded.
Despite flattening the cumulative cases curves in many parts of the world and subsequently easing lockdown restrictions in countries all over the world, a massive spike in cases has been recorded, with a record for new cases being set on the weekend.
It is possible that a new spike in cases could follow the easing of restrictions in South Africa as we venture into a post-COVID era. Health minister Zweli Mkhize, however, said South Africa had passed the surge and the worst was over. He also said hospitalisation numbers had reduced, and the number of people in intensive care was reducing.
“The sooner we can get to level 1 the better,” according to TimesLIVE. “The sooner we have a normal economy the better, it is better for the country. We are hoping South Africans will understand that to get there, we have to make sure we are just as cautious in level 2 so that there is no resurgence.”