South Africa will soon hit 20 months in a state of disaster

Current vaccination rates need to ramp up to reach herd immunity target by end of 2021

By mid-November, South Africa is likely to have spent a full 20 months under a national state of disaster. The government first declared the state of disaster on 15 March 2020. Since then, the country has been on lockdown for more than 587 days with a high chance that it might be extended again into December, and even into 2022. Last month, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had extended South Africa’s national state of disaster by a further month thus it is now set to expire on 15 November 2021. Dlamini-Zuma said that the extension considers the need to augment the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by the organs of state to address the impact of the disaster.

Dlamini-Zuma made the extension official by publishing it in the Government Gazette, which was the only way to keep the legal cover under which all current lockdown restrictions are enforced, from curfew to the risk of criminal prosecution if you fail to wear a mask in public. These measures have been applied by the government to implement and enforce lockdown restrictions, which have been used to curb the spread of the pandemic. Officially, the government's target remains to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of 2021 to achieve herd immunity. To date, slightly above 20% of the population are fully vaccinated and nearly 17% have been administered with one dose per data retrieved from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.