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COVID-19: South Africa lifts nightly curfew

COVID-19: South Africa lifts nightly curfew

South Africa, where the Omicron variant was discovered last month, announced Thursday the easing of restrictions related to COVID and especially the lifting of the curfew, after the country passed the peak of this wave of the epidemic, the presidency announced.

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Demands to lift the nightly curfew in effect from midnight to 4 a.m. have doubled in recent days, in anticipation of New Year’s Eve. The owners of restaurants and bars had launched an online petition titled “No curfew” addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Lifting the curfew. The presidency indicated that there are no longer any restrictions on traffic times. The sale of alcohol is permitted after 11 p.m. for licensed establishments.

She explained that “all indications indicate that the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave” of the epidemic. New infections fell by 29.7% last week (89,781) compared to the previous week (12,773).

Hospital admissions fell in eight out of the nine provinces. The presidency continued, “Although the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, hospitalization rates were lower than in previous waves” and that the increase in deaths was “marginal.”

Wearing a mask remains mandatory in public and gatherings are still limited: a maximum of 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 outdoors.

Omicron, which has a large number of mutations, was behind a new wave of the epidemic with a massive increase in cases. “The risks of increased infection remain high given the high rate of transmission of the Omicron variant,” recalls the presidency, which is also calling for vaccination.

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Officially the worst affected African country, South Africa has more than 3.4 million cases and 91,000 deaths.