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Covid-19| Nkosazana's hands are tight, experts voice out about ending National State of Disaster

Leading health professionals have now joined those pushing for the National State of Disaster to be lifted, claiming that having it in place makes no sense. In March 2020, when the country began collecting instances of COVID-19 and the medical community had very little information on the respiratory sickness, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared South Africa to be in a state of disaster.

The National State of Disaster is expected to last until at least February 15, 2022, after Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma extended it. It's unclear whether it will be extended for another month beyond that, but President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla's recent words give hope.

In January, Ramaphosa said the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), which oversees the lockdown, was reviewing its options and deciding whether or not to release it.

"The National Coronavirus Command Council is looking at it right now to see if we can use health protocols and laws to move forward in our pandemic management," Ramaphosa added.

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, according to Wits Infectious Diseases Professor Francois Venter and his colleagues, but the focus should be on more viable measures, which do not include the National State of Disaster.

"We must begin to learn to live with the virus, but that does not imply we should ignore it." We believe that the state of catastrophe is not the appropriate tool for this... Many of the mechanisms provided by the state of disaster have outlived their usefulness, and many of the measures that they have advocated for should be phased out," said Wits Infectious Diseases Professor Francois Venter.

Professor Venter and his colleagues argue that the government should focus on the immunization program and protecting health institutions against the effects of high admission rates.

"The solutions we propose below do not necessitate continuous centralised, secretive, and unaccountable decision-making." Arguments that a state of emergency is required to enforce interventions such as masks or limits on social gatherings are unconvincing, because most restrictions must be lifted anyway; improved communication, in combination with traditional legal and social persuasion mechanisms, can be used to ensure that the very limited number of interventions required are carried out."

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Cyril Ramaphosa Joe Phaahla National Coronavirus Command Council Nkosazana South Africa


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