Worst performing ministers performance targets

Cabinet meeting, March 2019 – Photo: GCIS/Flickr

It’s looking good: Five reasons why SA should move to Level 1 NOW

It’s about time for a family meeting, by the looks of things. South Africa is now ready for a shift to Level 1, and the ball is in Ramaphosa’s court.

Worst performing ministers performance targets

Cabinet meeting, March 2019 – Photo: GCIS/Flickr

The third wave has been declared ‘over’ by the experts this weekend, and with Cyril Ramaphosa understood to be meeting key Cabinet figures in the next few days, a move to Level 1 is all but guaranteed.

But why the hold-up? According to these latest figures, South Africa is ready for a much more lenient version of lockdown – and whatever is on Cyril’s to-do list this week, it’s becoming quite clear that he needs to make time for a family meeting.

Why South Africa should move to Level 1 now…

The three key indicators have all plummeted this week

We all know that there can’t really be a change in our lockdown levels, unless the all-important numbers are going in the right direction. Well, it’s our pleasure to report that cases, hospitalisations, and deaths have all fallen off a cliff. According to the latest seven-day averages published by the CSIR’s Ridhwaan Suliman

  • New cases have fallen by 40%
  • Hospitalisations are down 32%
  • And, crucially, deaths have also declined by 35%

Level 1 loading: Time is of the essence

There are more positives to celebrate than negatives at the moment, but alas, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. Health Minister Joe Phaahla believes a fourth wave of infections will come during the summer, thanks mainly to the long tail of the third wave. He fears that, regardless of lockdown levels, a resurgence is likely to happen in November.

With that in mind, it would make economic sense to give businesses and traders as much opportunity as possible to operate under the least restrictive laws, right up until the key indicators reach a level of concern. Thanks to our vaccines, the debate of ‘lives vs livelihoods’ has shifted in the past few months.

Test positivity rates

They are way, way down from the peak. Settling between 30% to 35% at the height of the third wave, positivity rates now sit between 5% to 7%. That’s extremely low, and should signal that our winter of misery is now officially over.

Let our vaccines do the talking…

Over 20% of South Africans are now fully vaccinated, and more than 30% have partial protection. In the Western Cape, that number is pushing 40%. Vaccines are available for everyone who wants to get one, and South Africa has never been better equipped to operate at Level 1 than it is right now.

Although these numbers probably don’t quite warrant a full ending of lockdown as we know it, they do allow the government more ‘freedom’ to justify any decision that relaxes restrictions.

New infections are ‘as low as they will get’ for Level 1

There were fewer than 1 000 people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday in South Africa. The country, however, is not equipped to pursue a ‘zero-COVID’ strategy. The virus will do what the virus has always done, and soon enough, this low base will gradually get higher. So, while the going is good, Mzansi needs to arrive at Level 1 fairly rapidly.