South Africa has extended its national ‘state of disaster,’ declared two years ago at the outset of the coronavirus epidemic in the country, by another month.
The state of disaster was set to expire on Wednesday. This latest extension moves the new date to April 15.
The controversial provisions under the country’s Disaster Management Act allows South Africa’s ruling party to lean on emergency powers rather than traditional legislation to manage the country’s COVID-19 battle, which, for much of the pandemic, has been the fiercest in Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had indicated in February that the previous extension of the State of Disaster to mid-March could have been its last, leaving many to speculate that South Africa’s strict antivirus measures could be expected to lift soon.
Those advocating for the State of Disaster to end point out that the country’s once horrifying rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations have since dropped to near record lows, with other metrics like total cases, deaths and test positivity rates also trending downwards.
But the government bodies are cautious to lift the measures too soon, with cabinet ministers indicating they will only do so when coronavirus mitigation measures are added to the country’s existing laws.
South Africa has seen nearly 100,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, by far the highest of any country in Africa.