Level 3 restrictions of the lockdown will remain in place until 15 February and the sale of alcohol is still banned.
This was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night as he addressed the nation on the latest efforts in government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said funerals have become death traps and super-spreader events, and warned that only 50 people were allowed to attend a burial.
“Many people keep repeating and reporting that many of those who are passing away were infected at funerals,” he said.
’’Let us pay heed to this... Funerals have become a death trap for many of our people. For now, it’s best to stay safe and to stay at home.“
Much of the Level 3 restrictions will remain in place, including the closure of beaches and public parks in hot spots, and the ban on social gatherings including religious events.
The national curfew was shortened by one hour, from 9pm until 5am, while all the country’s 20 ports will be closed to stop congestion, with a few exceptions being made.
The president pointed out that since his last address on December 28, SA has recorded more than 1.2 million Covid-19 cases, 33 000 deaths and with thousands of people being admitted to the country's hospitals.
“The province that has recorded the highest number of cases over the last seven days is KwaZulu-Natal, followed by the Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
“Infections in Gauteng are growing exponentially,” he said, adding that the increase is attributed to more residents in Gauteng returning home following the festive season.
He said a third of the 50 000 patients in hospitals were on oxygen, while the public healthcare system is under immense pressure.
He said the dop ban has helped ease the pressure off hospitals, citing Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital which for the first time in its history had no trauma cases on New Year’s Day.
“This proves that alcohol does result in behaviour that causes trauma. It is vital that we continue to protect health services at a crucial time,” the president said.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has emphasised that his administration was on track to ensure that 20 million doses of vaccines are administered in the next few weeks, although he provided no details.
He however cautioned against fake news and conspiracy theories advocating for communities not to accept the vaccines.
All vaccines would be approved by the the SA Health Products Authority (SAHPRA), he assured.
According to Ramaphosa, the country has to date secured 20 million doses that will be delivered mainly in the first half of the year adding that government would make further pronouncements upon concluding negotiations with vaccine manufacturers.
"We are in the process of procuring vaccines through three channels: through the World Health Organization’s Covax facility, through the African Union’s vaccine initiative and through direct engagements with vaccine manufacturers."
With the country's schools expected to reopen soon for the New Year, Ramaphosa said the NCCC and the Department of Basic Education will hold consultations and device a strategy around the sector.