President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 8pm on Monday evening [January 11] on developments in relation to the country's response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Presidency has confirmed.
"The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating. Since January 1, SA recorded almost 190 000 new infections and more than 4 600 Covid-19 related deaths so far in 2021", said Ramaphosa.
Infections in Gauteng are expected to increase as residents return to the province following the festive break.
"There are now over 15,000 people with COVID-19 in hospitals nationally, placing a considerable strain on health facilities, personnel and equipment. About a third of Covid-19 patients in hospitals are on oxygen, therefore there is a focus on health facilities, increasing oxygen supply and activating field hospital beds".
He warned against the new variant which is more infectious than the first identified strain of the virus.
The government has pledged to undertake a programme of vaccination to achieve herd immunity across South Africa and slowing the spread of the virus.
Ramaphosa also said that the country will remain under level 3 lockdown that was put in place on 28 December 2020.
Most indoor and outdoor gatherings will be banned including social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds.
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That puts the state among the top in the nation when it comes to vaccine distribution. During transport, the vaccine must be stored at a temperature of 2 C to 8 C.
Most gatherings remain prohibited, except for funerals of less than 50 people.
Alcohol sales are still not permitted, however, curfew times have changed slightly from 9 pm to 6 am to 9 pm to 5 am.
Beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed to the public.
Movement through South Africa's 20 land borders is set to be restricted largely to trade and business, as well as to those with documents to reside in South Africa, with the aim of reducing snarl-ups like those at the Beitbridge and Lebombo border posts the past couple of weeks.
The President's address will be broadcast and streamed on a range of platforms that are accessible to South Africans and global audiences.
With a series of consultations behind him this past week - including within the ANC and its alliance partners - Ramaphosa could give a more extensive update on South Africa's efforts to acquire a vaccine.
"We have always said that an effective vaccine will be a game-changer." he said.
Ramaphosa said the government has secured 20 million vaccine doses, with the bulk of them due to arrive in the first half.
Phase 2 will prioritise essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers and other frontline personnel. "The total number we plan to reach in this phase is around 16 million people", he said.