South Africa lifts curfew curfew as it says omicron-driven Covid wave peaks

CAPE TOWN – South Africa has lifted a curfew on passenger traffic from midnight to 4 a.m. with immediate effect as the country believes it has passed the peak of its fourth Covid-19 wave, powered by the Omicron variant, it said in a government statement on Thursday.

According to a press release from the Minister of Presidency Mondli Gungubele, the country has made the changes based on the progress of the pandemic, the vaccination level in the country and available capacity in the health sector.

South Africa is currently at the lowest of its five-step Covid-19 warning levels.

“All indicators suggest that the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at the national level,” said a statement from the special cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Sandile Cele, researcher at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, is working on the Omicron variant.Jerome Delay / AP

Health ministry data showed a 29.7 percent decrease in the number of new cases found for the week ended December 25, compared to the number of cases found at 127,753 the previous week, the government said.

South Africa was the hardest hit country in Africa during the pandemic, with nearly 3.5 million infections and 91,000 deaths in both cases.

Aside from lifting restrictions on public movement, the government said gatherings will be limited to no more than 1,000 people indoors and no more than 2,000 people outdoors.

It was also decided that liquor stores licensed to operate after 11:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. ET) can revert to full licensing terms, a welcome boon to traders and businesses severely affected by the pandemic and who are in the process of being Want to relax at Christmas time.

“Although the Omicron variant is highly transferable, there have been fewer hospital admissions than in the previous waves,” the cabinet said, adding that wearing masks in public places was still mandatory. Failure to wear a mask when required in South Africa remains a criminal offense.

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