A health worker holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, at the Munsieville Care for the Aged Centre outside Johannesburg, South Africa May 17, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

JOHANNESBURG – As coronavirus cases continued surging, South Africa would move to lockdown level two on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Sunday night.

Cases have been increasing over the past four weeks, with an average of 3,745 daily new infections.

“The number of infections has begun to rise sharply in several parts of the country,” Ramaphosa said, adding that the proportion of COVID-19 tests that are positive has more than doubled in the last month from around 4 percent to more than 11 percent.

Four provinces including the economic hub Gauteng have entered the third wave.

“The provinces of Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Gauteng have reached the threshold of a third wave of infections,” he noted. “It may only be a matter of time before the country as a whole will have entered a third wave.”

The president said the Cabinet has therefore decided that the country will be placed on Adjusted Alert Level 2 with effect starting Monday.

Some of the strict measures to be reintroduced on Monday include: the hours of curfew will start at 11 p.m. and end at 4 a.m. Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centers will need to close by 10 p.m. All gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.

Ramaphosa said more than 67 percent of public health workers have been vaccinated Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires a single dose while over 480,000 old people have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as part of the public vaccination campaign.

“We have secured enough vaccines to reach all adults in the country, which is around 40 million people,” he said.

This includes 31 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a single dose manufactured locally as well as 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Right now, our foremost priority is to scale up our vaccination campaign to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, in every part of our country,” said Ramaphosa.