After 27 months, the last remaining lockdown restrictions in SA officially expired in June 2022 – Photo: Adobe Stock

Level 5 lockdown ‘counterproductive’ – SA Medical Association

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said government should rather prioritise the provision of resources to doctors, particularly personal protective equipment (PPE) as opposed to further tightening COVID-19 lockdown restrictions


After 27 months, the last remaining lockdown restrictions in SA officially expired in June 2022 – Photo: Adobe Stock

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) is not convinced the country returning to a hard Level 5 lockdown would maximise the countering of the spread of COVID-19.

The comments come as the State of Disaster is just days away from coming to an end (15 January 2021) and concerns that President Cyril Ramaphosa will impose stricter lockdown restrictions.

“Renewed calls for a return to a harder lockdown by various individuals and organisations are counter-productive and will not achieve meaningful results in the fight against COVID-19,” SAMA said in a statement.

Under the current Level 3 lockdown regulations, the sale of alcohol is banned and gatherings have been limited – the former has paid off, with hospitals now able to focus more on COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 in SA: Level 3 lockdown is ‘sufficient’

The country is also experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases and recorded more than 20 000 infections for three consecutive days – something which Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize described as a grim milestone.

“The coronavirus is out there, and returning to lockdown Level 5 will only harm our already fragile economy, and place businesses who are already struggling in further jeopardy,” the Medical Association’s Chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said.

She added that focusing on strengthening health facilities, and vaccinating healthcare workers, is a more sensible approach. Mkhize announced recently that 1.5 million doses of Astra Zeneca, a COVID-19 vaccine, would soon land on local shores and that doctors would be prioritised.

“The current Level 3 lockdown is sufficient but it must be accompanied by a wholesale improvement to medical care which requires a lot more focus on providing health facilities with resources to increase their capacity,”

Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chairperson of the SA Medical Association (SAMA)

The provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) remains one of the most critical resources for healthcare workers treating COVID-19. The Medical Association said this was still problem, despite assurances from government that the matter has been settled.

“We’ve all heard the stories and read the personal accounts of doctors who are struggling to cope with the lack of PPE, PPE which damages easily, of being overworked because of a lack of other medical professionals,” Coetzee said.

She said they are being contacted daily by doctors who say they are burnt out from being overworked, but who also say authorities are not taking their concerns seriously enough.