The current measures were due to expire on January 15th and include the closure of beaches and public parks and a ban on the sale of alcohol.
“The pandemic in our country is now the most devastating. The number of new infections, the number of hospitalizations and deaths that continue to occur, are far higher than it has been since the first case was registered in our country in March 2020.” , Ramaphosa said in a national live address.
In addition to extending existing measures, Ramaphosa announced that 20 land borders would be closed by February 15th. The closures will have a few exceptions, such as those traveling for medical emergencies, he said.
Ramaphosa said the speed and intensity of the second wave in South Africa was due to the 501.v2 variant discovered by genomic scientists late last year.
“We know that this new variant of the virus tends to spread much faster than the earlier version. This explains that many more people have become infected in a much shorter time,” he said, adding that evidence that a new strain has made people ill.
Ramaphosa said the restrictions would be reassessed when the current peak of infections subsides.
South Africa has reported at least 1,246,643 Covid-19 cases, including 33,579 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.