Phaahla “We are not micromanaging the nation”
Health Minister Joe Phaahla has denied allegations that the government is using the pandemic to micro-manage the nation.
He was addressing a media briefing explaining post-disaster management protocols.
“We are not obsessed with the Disaster Management Act. Our goal is to save lives,” Phaahla said.
“Nothing can be further from the truth,” Phaahla added.
According to the civil rights group AfriForumPresident Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Monday evening about the lifting of the state of calamity will not change anything as the current Covid-19 regulations will remain in effect for another month, after which the new government health regulations will come into effect.
The lobby group says it is preparing legal comments in opposition to the new health regulations.
While the disaster has been lifted, some “transitional provisions” such as the use of face masks indoors and gathering regulations will remain in effect for a period of 30 days, while new regulations in terms of national health law will come into effect.
Phaahla stressed that the changes are amendments and not new laws.
“These are not new laws, but amendments. The health department is not trying to run the country. These are existing laws and regulations under the National Health Act, “she said.
Phaahla reminded reporters that Covid-19 is not the first public health scare we have experienced as a country. An outbreak of listeriosis occurred between 11 June 2017 and 7 April 2018.
Public consultations are open on new amendments to the national health law.
This is not the end of the pandemic
Phaahla and Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stressed that the pandemic is not over yet.
“Unless something drastic happens, preventive measures such as wearing indoor masks are still important. In some countries there are concerns, Shanghai, with a population of over 20 million, is under lockdown.”
Phaahla and Dlamini-Zuma have confirmed that there will be a fifth wave and new variations by the end of April.
But, he warned it might even come sooner.
“One thing Covid has taught us, even the most educated people will tell you, this is what we are planning, we cannot say for sure”.
Dlamini-Zuma said the regulations in the post-disaster management act will guide the country’s response to further waves.